Nothing in life is easy, although it may seem that way. What about following Jesus Christ. The readings testify that living out a life in Christ is not all roses. Paul wrote Philippians from prison because he was a disciple. John, for obeying Jesus, got imprisoned and beheaded. "Follow Jesus, go to jail"? But our Lord suffered all and died for us. Then He arose and ascended.
Discipleship requires seeing this bigger picture. Is it worth it to stick it out? Yet it's God who signs us up to follow Him. He equips us to follow through on His commitment to us. Is it worth it? God is faithful to His promises: not theology of glory (guaranteed health, wealth, and peace) but theology of the cross (we will be perfected in heaven, our sealed future). The Holy Spirit, our Comforter, keeps us in this true faith. Life has hardships, but eternal life has peace. Though we may feel helpless, we're in for the long haul: heaven with Christ, our eternal Treasure, our true Friend.
Advent: a new day dawns. Our alarm tells us: "Awake!" A new church year approaches - the beginning of the end - a cause for alarm? Though Christ came in humility long ago, we pray for Him to come in power. When will this end come? What if He comes today? Are we ready?
We can't tell when He will come. But at every moment we must trust Him to keep us ready. The ultimate purpose of the Word is not to alarm but to strengthen us in our struggle with sin and its guilt. Take heart - the Word became not only man, but also sin for us! We rely on Christ's blamelessness, not ours. Therefore, rest assured of this, but don't roll over. Luther's analogy is of a pig, washed but immediately becoming dirty again. Wake up instead, to tell others about this wonderful Word. No tunnel vision or procrastination. Live while it is yet Today.
Soli Deo gloria.