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Our Help in Ages Past—Our Hope for Years to Come
Psalm 90:1-2


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
New Year’s Eve—December 31, 2008

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

In his best-selling book “A Brief History of Time,” Cambridge University physicist Stephan Hawking theorized that time has no beginning and no end; time exists from eternity, to eternity.  Hawking is correct in his description, but he is describing the wrong thing.  For, it is not time ITSELF which has no beginning and no end, but the CREATOR of time, the eternal God.

God has no beginning and no end; God exists from eternity, to eternity.  It is difficult to put into words, but this is how the psalm writer expresses the eternity of God in Psalm 90, which we read earlier in our service: “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.  Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”

Contrary to Stephan Hawking’s theory that time is infinite and eternal, the Scriptures report that the phenomenon of time was created by God:  “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth . . .  And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons, days, and years.”

So, the Bible tells us that the steady march of time had a definite BEGINNING, and it will also have a definite END, at the end of all things.  Like a clock that is wound and slowly progresses through the hours, God has set time into motion, and he has fixed a certain point at which time will end.

This is not only true in the grand scheme of the universe, but also for each of us as individuals.  Psalm 139 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to pass,” Psalm 31 says, “My times are in your hands,” and Psalm 90 says, “Teach us to number our days aright.”  God has set your LIFE into motion, and he has allotted to you a certain number of days.  He has fixed a time when your earthly life will end.

But, even though the heavens and earth will be destroyed, as St. Peter said in this evening’s Epistle Reading, even though the steady march of the years will cease, even though time itself will come to an end, your existence will continue into eternity.  Because of your sin, you deserve to SUFFER in eternity, death and damnation.  But, St. Paul says in Romans, “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

God has compassion on our world; he sent his Son to pay for our sins by his blood; to rescue us and give us salvation.  Whoever believes in him shall have eternal life.  He will bring YOU into his everlasting kingdom.

And, while you remain here on earth, your most precious possession is the TIME God has allotted you.  The old song says, “If I could put time in a bottle.”  But, you cannot halt the unyielding march of days.  Like a clock ticking away, time progresses invariably.  Like a precious treasure, your days on earth are spent, never to be returned or relived.  You cannot “put time in a bottle,” you cannot save up extra time for the future.  And you cannot borrow or buy extra time, as Jesus said in this evening’s Gospel Reading, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

Jesus told the Parable of the Talents, about three men, each given a certain amount of money by their master to invest and use while the master was away on a trip.  And when he returned, two of the servants had wisely used the money and gotten a good return.  But, one of the servants, wicked and lazy, hid his portion away, did not use it, had not gained anything for his master.

Like the master in the parable, God has allotted to each of us a precious treasure: a certain amount of time, to serve him here on earth.  And when he comes again, he expects to see that we each have used our time wisely and well, that we each have invested our time to serve him and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

St. Paul says in Colossians, “Make the most of every opportunity.”  When God calls for an accounting of the time allotted to you, will he commend you for making the most of every opportunity, for serving the Lord with gladness, for giving to him and his service the proper portion of your life?

St. Paul says in 1st Corinthians, “Brothers, the time is short.”  Another year has passed, so quickly.  Over this past year good resolutions and good intentions have fallen by the way.  The precious treasure of time has too often been wasted.

“Behold, I come quickly!” Jesus says. Your master is returning, the clock is running, your time on earth is precious.  Make not just good resolutions and good intentions.  Make the most of every opportunity.  As St. Paul says in Colossians, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

“O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.”  God forgives you when you fail; God accepts, however imperfect, your offerings of time and service which you offer to him with faith in his Son; God will bless your efforts and make them bear fruit; God will use your work to serve him and extend his kingdom in the new year. 

In this new year, use your most precious, irreplaceable treasure—your time—to serve the Lord with gladness.  Even as the Lord has blessed you in ages past, he will bless you in the year to come, and he will finally grant you the gift of everlasting time in the eternal bliss of heaven.

Amen.

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