BE VIGILANT AND SOBER

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TEXT

Matthew 24:15-31

“So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; the one on the housetop must not go down to take what is in the house; the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat.

Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days!  Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath.  For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.  And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look!  Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘There he is!’—do not believe it.  For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

Take note, I have told you beforehand.  So, if they say to you, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out.  If they say, ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.  For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

“Immediately after the suffering of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken.  Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory.  And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

NRSV

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How easily our hearts get “weighted down,” our expectation “dulled.”  The Kingdom-life is harder than we imagine; it is too easy to drift into the pleasures of this world.  Can gluttony, also, keep us from the Kingdom?  Can consumerism make our heart too heavy to rise to heaven?

-Brian Rhea

Behold, if you want to be a Christian, consider carefully, in order that you control yourself.  If truly you don’t want to be saved, feel free to steal, rob, profiteer, so long as you can (though you still must fear  the Hangman and the magistrates).  But if, however, you do want to be saved, then hear this:  just as adultery and idolatry close up heaven from you, so does gluttony; as Christ clearly says:  “Be on your guard, that your hearts not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day…come on you suddenly like a trap,” “as the lightening comes from the east, flashing even to the west.”  Therefore, be vigilant and sober.  That is what is preached to us, who want to be Christians.

—Martin Luther (1483-1546)

“Sermon on Soberness and Moderation,” 1539

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