We find ourselves at the end of the Church Year. That means that this last Sunday and this coming Sunday focuses our attention on the Day of the Lord. The readings for yesterday morning, 26th Sunday after Pentecost did just that, speaking of the Day of the Lord (Malachi 4) and the return of Christ upon the clouds (Luke 21). We spent time hearing about the Lord's return and the judgment that is a part of that return. That judgment is both law and gospel, death and life. For those who don't believe in Christ as their Lord and Savior it is law, condemning to an eternity in hell, separated from the Lord for eternity. For those believing in Christ as their only Savior it is gospel, pronouncing the wonder of salvation, an eternity with the Lord in heaven.
As I reflect back upon those readings and look towards the readings for this Sunday, the Last Sunday of the Church Year (or Christ the King Sunday), I also think about yesterday's storms. We here in Troy faced winds and rain but the storms were nothing compared to other places around the state (and throughout the Midwest). I am drawn to two storms that went through two communities. One community, in Washington County, suffered tremendous damage and even the death of a couple people. The town of New Minden, IL was devastated with a tornado that went through, tearing the rood off of St. John's Lutheran Church, and destroying several homes across the highway from the church. These things happen in many communities at many different times, but this one hit close to home as we are friends with Pastor Tim & Dawn Mueller of St. John's and have spent numerous times in St. John's church building. Also we have friends Rey and Eunice Hausler whose house was destroyed by the tornado. Destruction in their lives, and I wonder, "Did they recall the words of the Lord in Luke 21 and think that perhaps it was the Day of the Lord?" It most certainly could have been if the storm had hit a hour earlier when the church was filled with worshipers or if Rey & Eunice did not make it to their basement before the tornado hit their house.
And I also think about the community of Washington, IL who received even more destruction. Once again, we have our friends Pastor Tom & Trudy Heren of Our Savior's Lutheran Church in that community. The town was devastated with the destruction of the storm. Perhaps you have seen the images on the news. Terrible destruction, beyond what I can even imagine. Pastor Tom & Trudy have told us that the church was damaged and their parsonage was also damaged. Seven of the church families have been displaced either from damage or complete destruction of the house, the Heren's being one of those displaced families. And once again, if that storm would have hit an hour earlier, the church would have been filled with worshipers and they would have know what the Day of the Lord was like as it would have been that day for them.
Destruction, death, terror, terrible things going on in an instant, no chance to think, just to act - and it makes me think about the Day of the Lord. That is the way it will be. People think, "I will have the chance to change my mind and believe in Jesus when He comes," but they won't. There won't be the chance to think. It will be in a moment, in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye. The Lord will come and it will be judgment - believe or don't believe, but a that moment, much like in a tornado that hits in a moment and is gone, it will be what it will be.
The point of this rambling? Now is the day of salvation. Now is the day to believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Now is the time to have the heart turned from stone to life. There may be no tomorrow for you to consider Jesus as the only-begotten Son of God, the Savior of the world, your personal Savior.
I pray for those affected by the storms of November 17, 2013. There was much destruction and some death. There will be months of rebuilding ahead for numerous communities - such as Washington, IL and New Minden, IL. We will have opportunity to assist these communities and show the love of Christ that is our hearts by the help and support that we can give to them.
And I pray that the Holy Spirit will bring to faith those who don't believe in Jesus as their Savior. I pray that He will use each of us to share that message of the Gospel with those we come in contact with each day. I also pray for the Lord to come in all His glory, praying "Come, Lord Jesus." Yes, there is much to be said about the Day of the Lord and the storms that rolled through.