Der Vasken's Sermon on March 18, 2018

Mar 20, 2018

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Today is the Sunday of Advent.  It is the sixth and final Sunday of Lent.  The Sunday of Advent is also known as The Sunday of the Second Coming because it points to the time when the Son of God will come again to this earth to do exactly what we recite every Sunday in the Havadamk --"to judge the living and the dead."   And the Bible readings of the day all describe the coming of God's Kingdom in very vivid tones and images.  And they describe God's Kingdom as New Jerusalem.  A New Jerusalem, which will be filled with believers but will also be a place far removed from non-believers.  And the Bible readings today ask all of us to form an opinion about Jesus Christ.

  • What do you believe about Him?
  • Has your belief grown or has it remained undeveloped?
  • Whose Son is He?
  • Does He offer eternal life to everyone?

And what about our personal lives here and now?

  • Does God play any role in our lives today?
  • What do we believe He will do when the worse events of our lives take place--when we face illness or the problems associated with advancing age or children, who show signs of heading down a wrong path?
  • What will we believe then?

These are all interesting and very important questions whose answers will have impact on our eternal life.  But the Bible readings today encourage us to focus not so much on the questions of this world but on the answers found in the Eternal World.  Focus on the answers that are found in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Today's Bible readings call the Kingdom of Heaven the New Jerusalem--the place for all believers.  I want to focus there today.

  • What is the New Jerusalem?
  • And why do our Church Fathers want us to focus there on the last Sunday of Lent?

We have all heard of the Book of Revelation.  It is the last Book of the Bible written by the Apostle John.  When John wrote this Book, the other apostles had already died.  He wrote it decades after Jesus rose to Heaven.  And so St. John was advanced in years when he wrote this Book and his body was tired and weary. 

  • The journey as an Apostle had taken its toll.
  • His friends were all gone.
  • St. Peter was dead.
  • St. Paul had been martyred.
  • Martyrdom found most of the other apostles as well.
  • The other apostles were all but distant memories for him.
  • They were people he knew from an earlier period of his life.

And in this Book he writes about the last day of earth--the day of the Second Coming.  His descriptions of that day are written in a way that are full of suspense.  He describes a final battle of Good versus Evil, where the Holy meets the unholy.  A day where the Sacred encounters the secular/sinful, but in the midst of that battle, he says he saw a beautiful flower.  He describes that flower like this:  "And then I saw a new Heaven and a new earth, [Rev. 21:5] for the first Heaven and the first earth had passed away.  I saw the Holy City--the New Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God.  And in that City, God will wipe away every tear from every eye.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old has passed away.  And in this City, God makes everything new again."

  • The New Jerusalem is the place where God restores.
  • God doesn't refurbish.  He restores.
  • He doesn't cover up the old.  He restores the old with newness.
  • In other words, the Creator of this world will restore His creation.
  • He will restore the hope.
  • He will restore the energy.
  • He will restore the vigor.
  • And He will restore the soul of man.

So when we see the world around us growing stooped and weary, burdened with needless conflict, jealousy, stress, loneliness, illness and pain, and then we read about a City where everything is made new, doesn't that make you want to be a citizen of that Great City?  That is what our Church Fathers want us to think about on this last Sunday of Lent. And that has been the theme throughout the whole season of Great Lent.  To look inside ourselves and clean out whatever prevents us from seeking citizenship in the New Jerusalem.

Today is the last Sunday of Lent.  May we all use the week ahead to focus on that beautiful Flower--the City of the New Jerusalem that St. John talked about.  And may we all be found worthy of entering it someday.  So, in the remaining week of Lent, take an inward look at yourself and clean out.

Amen.