AT LAST, Your Day in Court

Did you hear what we said about Jesus a few minutes ago? Did you hear what we said about ourselves? 'Embedded in that old, old, churchy word… The Apostles' Creed? This is what we said.

Jesus… "ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand

of God the Father Almighty, and from that very place

he shall come to judge the quick and the dead." 

There's news here! 'Lots to sort out, think, pray about. Comforting words. Troubling words. Why, I remember, for example, wondering about that phrase, the quick and the dead. I didn't figure that out 'til I got to college. Class didn't teach me. Dinner did. We used to serve family style, not cafeteria. Come in. Sit down. Waiters serve. Students pass the food. Early on, I made the mistake of sitting politely at table with some of the football squad. By the 3rd guy helping himself out of 8, I learned there would be 2 kinds of folks at this table, "The quick and the dead!" After that, I always ate at a girl table. No ladies man, I, just a hungry freshman boy who wanted a fair shot at dinner on my plate! OK, I admit it wasn't much later I learned the quick were just the living and the dead just, well, the dead. But it's what I learned after those student days I want to share today. About ourselves. Our God. Our Savior.

It turns out this creaky old creed just might give us the crispest confidence. And clearest warning. At the last, we all get our day in court! Talk about your good news/bad news! This is it. I mean, first off, don't you just wonder? Don't you wonder if all the stuff-that's-happened-to-you in your life is ever gonna come 'round right? The unfair get undone, the messed up get fixed up; the awful come out awesome, the wrong get righted and the wicked get wiped up or wiped out?  GOOD NEWS! God in Christ will judge! The universe has a moral dimension, a conduct code, an order that really will bring order at last. Random may rule for today but Righteous will reign forever and ever. Yaaahooo! So where's the bad news? It's here. We too will be judged, and by Jesus himself. Our life, our day, our week, our words, our meditations (what we say under our breath). 'Every borrowed breath of God we've ever wasted. What our eyes peeked at/our ears strained to hear. All we thought we got away with. O, our day in court! Mph! Mph! Mph!

Christ shall be the standard, the measure of us all. We embrace that when we sign up and swing in line to follow him. So be thoughtful, should someone ask, "Are you a Christian, a believer, a follower?"  Remember Christ's encounter with Peter on his way to Jerusalem and the cross? 'Folks 'been talkin'. Some say he's a prophet, others Elijah or John the Baptist back from the dead? "Who do you say I am?" he asks Peter and the rest. Peter answers (for us), "I believe you are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus responds with words for Peter that in a deep sense are meant for us, too. "Blessed are you! Now you got the keys of the kingdom! You can open (or close) any door. No more barriers between heaven and earth. A yes here, a yes there; a no, just the same." (Message, alt.) How about this?! No guesswork, no lack of power for today or tomorrow. From this little child baptized to the eldest soul on the farthest pew, we can look up at what we're here to do. JESUS! Jesus! Jesus. He comes to judge the quick (that's us) and the dead. It's why he comes. 'Not just to pass sentence but to make the standards public! And for all our modern, our marvels, our text messages and sci-fi cybermania, a simple carpenter with an insistent ruler and a square plumb line still shows the way!

 

A teacher of pastoral counseling once put it for me like this. "Do you know the difference between a psychotic and a neurotic? A psychotic exclaims'2 + 2 = 5' and embraces it. A neurotic confesses, '2+2 = 4, but O Lordy how I hate it.' A believer confesses, 'I don't care about 2+2, I just care about 1. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all." Last year's Confirmation Class just put it like this: I believe… Jesus is God's son,

our Messiah and King of my life.

Jesus Christ is our Master, Teacher, Shepherd,

Savior, Mentor and Healer. 'My Counselor and Guide

 in making decisions in my life. So there we go!           

 

What to tell the kids? This Baptized baby? Maybe better we listen. Perhaps he/they hear better. And will hear this. We're not in this alone. Christ promises that comin'-to-our-day-in-court, we aren't and won't be alone. "God will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, The Spirit of Truth. A Hand to fit your hand, walking here, or to the Last/Light Throne! He will not leave you desolate."

Scripture and creed alike reveal a remarkable truth. The same One who sits above us, at God's right hand, also walks beside us, hand in hand! When we believe, this Presence/Counselor/Spirit lives with us, even in us, now and forever. Some golden threads stitch the Bible Word together, end to end. Here's one. Never alone. I love this. We all need to know and hold tight to this. God's first assessment of us, "I done good! This Adam/Everyperson is mighty fine." Literally, God's 2nd word on us, "It is not good that [we] should be alone." How true! We're like the TV old folks come to visit the kids and grands. (You've seen this.) The new parents plop the infant twins in those elderly arms and rush to a cab, going away for the week. Grandpa's left shuffling after the cab crying, "Don't leave us with the babies!" These (baptismal) parents know the feeling. We do, too. We cry out to heaven itself. "Don't leave us with these children, these bills, these aches and ills. Not with these choices, these disappointments. Not with these world and personal dilemmas, these heartaches without ointments. Well… believers believe God doesn't… leave us. When the Garden, the rainbow, the judges, Moses, David, the prophets and the Law itself aren't enough, God sends Jesus, endures the cross, shatters the tomb.

'And gives the Spirit-that-lives-in-us, here to hereafter to correct at last what God saw from the start. 'Not good we should be alone! So know this when you leave today, whatever you're leavin' for. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

And you won't be on your Day in Court either. Not on God's Day. Not on Judgment Day. To borrow on John's word, "I am telling this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He's already paid the price for our sins, and the whole world's. So live the Jesus you believe because others will believe the Jesus they see you live. God's counting on you to make God's love complete." And when you have your day in court, God's court, know that the same Christ who is the standard by which you personally will be judged, will stand with you. 'Be your advocate. 'Your lawyer. 'Your defense! 'His person for our predicament. His, the last best word for us.

Christ: our standard for today. Our companion always. And our best witness. None better come our day in court. Lord, let it come.

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