Every year the last Monday of May and on November 11 we observe Memorial Day and Veterans Day, respectively. Many people can’t tell you the difference between these two days. But there is a difference. Most veterans can probably tell you. Usually, the local media outlet will have a segment honoring veterans. Any time there’s a veteran segment the odds of the story ending with the sounding of taps are pretty good.
One day another trumpet will sound. The end of the latter days that we’ve been living in since the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, will be the Last Day, the final day of all history. On that day the trumpet will sound and death will be undone. All the sad things will come untrue, as Tolkien wrote. The trumpet will not sound taps, but reveille. Bodies will wake up from the grave. All nations will stream to God’s holy mountain in peace to worship him forever. The swords will be beaten into plows and the spears into pruning hooks.
All of the skills I learned as a Marine will be useless because there will be no more war. All of the skills I’m learning as a pastor, to point people to Jesus, will be useless because the Church will be united with the Groom. I won’t need to point people to Jesus when He’s standing there in front of you.
But in the meantime, the dark times in which we live call us to continually be reminded of and to get glimpses of the light.
This is one of the reasons I love Advent. It’s not because all the Christmas lights are up. It’s not because we eat yummy crockpot food before midweek Advent services. It’s not because Christmas is right around the corner.
It’s because Advent so clearly preaches light in the darkness. Advent is for the first responders who have to see the real gritty darkness of the world. It’s for the people who have to see the things that humanity wasn’t meant to see. It’s for the veteran who has seen the horrors of war. It’s for the addict who carries around and is fighting the dark temptations day in and day out. It’s for the parents who have had to bury their children. It’s for those who are struggling with depression. It’s for those who are fighting the temptation of suicide. It’s for those who aren’t sure how to go on another day after the things they’ve seen and been through.
So Advent preaches
Then stepped forth the Lord of all
From His pure and kingly hall
God of God, yet fully man, His heroic course began
God the Father was His source
Back to God He ran His course
Into Hell His road went down
Back then to His Throne and crown
For You Are the Father’s Son
Who in Flesh the victory won
By Your mighty power make whole
All our ills of Flesh and soul
From the manger newborn light
Shines in glory through the night
Darkness there no more resides
In this light faith now Abides
(Lutheran Service Book #332, Savior of the Nations Come, v. 4-7)
And to those people, the ones facing this dark world, Advent says “Help is on the way.” Reinforcements are coming, or rather THE Reinforcement is coming. Back up is inbound. So just sit tight and hold on.
Here’s how you hold on; come to worship. Come receive the Word of God in your ears. Have the forgiveness of all of your sin delivered to your ears in the absolution, in the liturgy, in the reading of Scripture, in the singing of the hymns, and hopefully in the sermon. Come to the Lord’s Table. Come receive the forgiveness of all of your sin delivered to your lips. Come and have a foretaste of the feast to come when the rightful King returns to His Kingdom.
Come and find peace for the depths of your soul when you hear of Jesus’ glorious resurrection. Come to the light of Jesus Christ, because dark times call for a breaking in of the light of the Christ. Amen.