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Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come.

The following sermon was preached by Adam Berndt, LSTC student, in Augustana Chapel at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago on Thursday, December 3, 2009.


Luke 21:25-36

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come.

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come.

Dear friends, I still get chills when we pray these words on this first week of Advent.

I remember in my bones early December 2006 when I sat where you sit today, an overwhelmed Junior struggling to find a foothold amidst my first final weeks of graduate study.

I was lost in papers and readings that surpassed in length and volume anything that I had encountered in my five years of undergraduate study....that's right...five years...

I was after all a music major!

Now, I’m not trying to say that this is where you may be at today, but I remember this real feeling of loneliness and isolation, of being lost in things that seemed to overwhelm my life and dominate my time, my thoughts, my life.

Who here has never experienced a time of seemingly overwhelming anxiousness or stress where you look around you and think 'how did I get here? How did this happen?'

That's where I was that first December of seminary. Before I was trained to hone in on the Good News of anything...

before I was sure I was even a Lutheran...

before I had the blessings of MIC and internship...

It was just me and the books...for those of you who know me...not my strong suit!

I wanted to cry...

Chapel had become distant... I often would sit here that first year numb....

Jesus was read and proclaimed but the anxiety and stress of that first semester would not let Jesus in!

I dutifully took my place in chapel in early December, three years ago, empty and alone with my thoughts, even while surrounded by friends. It was Pastor Satterlee who was presiding that day and from his mouth flowed this prayer....this invitation:

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come....

They were words spoken directly to me! Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come....

Yes! Yes! Come Lord Christ...I need you!

I was filled with an overwhelming sense of presence. I was stuck on that opening line. I do not remember the rest of the prayer because I was replaying that first line over and over again in my head:

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come...

The funny thing is, is that this isn't even scripture! For me, the Advent message and life- renewing word had come from a simple prayer.

Jesus does come into our midst and dwells with us in our anxiety and stress. It is for this  celebration of Jesus' coming, Emmanuel, God with us, that we listen... that we remember... that we plead for each Advent.

We are reminded that we are never alone, that it is never too much...

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come...

This Advent hope comes to us in our Gospel text this week. Luke acknowledges the reality of times filled with anxiety and stress in a cosmic way:

'People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.'

Professor Wenderoth and Professor Westhelle have done a wonderful and thorough job earlier this week in naming the ways in which the world we live are marked with hard times and struggle both within our seminary networks as well as globally.

Each one of us feels, in our own way, the stress and anxiety of a troubled time.

In these times of trouble,

of emptiness,

of confusion,

we, as a people of God, may also hear the hope of the one coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

God is near in the coming of Jesus through the Holy Spirit and God will not leave us.

My friend and colleague Dan Hille asked me yesterday why the gospel choir sang a song on the text John 3:16 'For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.'

And so as I reflected on Dan's question in relation to our apocalyptic text beginning this season of Advent, I was left to wonder 'well why not!?'

Why should Advent be confined to preparation for the baby Jesus at Christmas time.... we know the whole story!

We are not just preparing to celebrate the birth of a baby...we are celebrating the Advent of our Lord and Savior!!!

The one who penetrates this world in a radical way, with radical Good News of love, peace, and mercy. 

The one who will die and rise and then come again so that God's word will never end and in whom we will have eternal life!

God's promised presence with us can be the source of a great hope in any time.

So we gather in various states of fullness and emptiness...in confidence and in doubt...gathered together in faith to hear the Word of God that will never pass away and remember and give thanks for all that Jesus is in our lives!

We pray together...

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come...

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