The wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Those who speak empty, useless, vain words, and those who believe them, and those who associate with them, will be the subjects of this wrath. So says Saint Paul in the first few verses of our Epistle reading from today.
Think back upon your life. Have you ever done wrong? Have you said something wrong, told a lie, encouraged another to do or think wrongly? Have you gossiped, slandered, or insulted? These are all empty words, words that have no constructive purpose. They are words that we speak and words that subject us to the wrath of God.
Think about that for just a moment. Every word that comes out of your mouth will be judged. Every last word. We have this idea in our day and age that words do not mean anything. We can say something and then take it back a few days later. But the Biblical idea of words is not that way. When something is spoken, it is final. You cannot take it back. Once a word is said it is out there, and no amount of back talk can remove it.
We will stand before God upon the last day and give an account for our words. It will not suffice to say, “I didn’t mean it” or “I take it back.” You did mean it. You can’t take it back. The only thing to say at that moment, the only hope we have before the wrath of God, is the Word of God.
Hear the words of the Holy Spirit to you, right here, right now: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!” This declaration from God is not a command, but a calling. It is a summons that produces what it states.
When we speak empty, evil words we are walking in darkness and death. The Holy Spirit, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ calls us back from the dead here and now, and to a new life. The call from the Spirit pulls us out of the slumber of death where we say words that are truly damned by God. It saves us from God’s well deserved wrath. And it sets us walking in light, speaking what is good, right, and true.
Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you! You have been called back from the dead by the Holy Spirit through the power of God’s Word. The Spirit has set you living and walking the path of light, the path of wisdom, the path of Christ.
This is the perfect path that Jesus Christ walked for us as He walked to the cross. One step at a time, He spoke words full of power, wisdom, and love. He walked according to God’s perfect will. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. He rejoiced in the blessings of His Father, and He submitted to His Father, even unto death. And through His resurrection, by calling us back to life, Jesus gives this walk to us as well. His walk is attributed to us, that we might learn to walk it here and now.
Being resurrected from empty words of deceit and disobedience, the Holy Spirit leads us to walk in light, to walk according to the will of God. What is the will of the Lord? How can we discern it? It is as simple as opening your Bible and turning to Exodus 20. There God tells Israel His will for all people. It is called the Ten Commandments. Honoring parents, helping the poor and sick, loving spouses, being good stewards, telling the truth, being content, this is the will of God fulfilled by Jesus Christ in His earthly life and given to us as a gift that we might walk in His ways.
Walking in the light of Christ we are not drunk on wine, but drunk on the Spirit of God. In other words, what brings us our greatest joy is not alcohol, but the gifts of God. Receiving the constant stream of forgiveness, life, and salvation that flows from the foot of the cross and the empty tomb leads us to rejoice. Christians are filled with joy that knows no end. It is God’s gift to us.
In the wake of disaster, only the Christian can approach suffering with head held high knowing that the future is still bright. Through a drought, only the peace of God in Christ allows us to rejoice in the gifts that we DO have. Jesus Christ has conquered death and given this new life to you freely in His Word and Sacraments. What isn’t there to be happy and joyful about?
And this joy that fills us is expressed in God’s gift of song. As we sing in Church, we lift our voices to God and to one another, not only with lips, but also with heart. The Psalms and hymns contained in our hymnals are God’s gift to us. Along with other music composed with Christ at its center, these spiritual songs are expressions of a Christian’s true joy. Their rejoicing finds its voice in God’s gift of music and melody.
Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you! Awake and arise. Bask in the light of Christ. Walk in the joy of His salvation. Discover the Will of God. Be intoxicated by the Holy Spirit. Rejoice in His never-ceasing gifts.You have been called back from the death of empty and evil words. You have been resurrected to new life in Jesus Christ. The Spirit will lead you to walk in the light of Christ. Amen.