by Egon Kopereck
Dear brothers and sisters,
We approach the end of another ecclesiastical year. This season’s biblical readings, texts, and reflections in our worship advise us to be watchful. We are not of darkness but are instead children of the light, and we are therefore given the warning to not sleep but keep watch (1 Thessalonians 5:5-6): “Keep awake and be sober,” St. Paul writes, “having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (5:6, 8).
The admonitions, the warnings of the Word of God seem as if they were written for today. Keep watch! This is our challenge.
In fact, the devil, the world, and our own sinful nature are very astute and dangerous enemies. They use subtle, subliminal, and dangerous weapons. One of these is to occupy our time to the maximum, with television, electronics, socialization, work, and amusement filling all our time. We no longer sit down with our family and read the Holy Bible or a devotional story. We no longer inculcate the Scriptures “diligently to our children” (Deuteronomy 6:7) nor “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). And yet when children do not want to go to church and are not interested in the things of God, we wonder and cannot understand the reason why.
No wonder we’re told to keep watch! St. Peter writes, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9).
The psalmist asks, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” before answering: “By guarding it according to Your Word” (Psalm 119:9). For this to occur, that Word needs to be in our hearts, and this only happens by studying, reading, meditating on, and applying the Holy Scriptures. As the Apostle Paul told the Romans, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
My dear brethren, the word of Jesus to “be watchful” echoes firmly and strongly still today. Therefore, let us not overlook meditating on, listening to, contemplating, and practising the Word of God, but instead make time for it (Colossians 3:16). Let us also teach this attitude in word and action to our children and families (Ephesians 6:4). Let us be careful of what we feed our own minds and hearts (1 Corinthians 6:18). And let us seek help, rescue, and refuge in God (Psalm 46), because only in Him is there hope and life.
May everyone have a blessed ecclesiastical year-end and Advent Season, and may the Church’s New Year be filled with peace, love, joy and hope.
Rev. Egon Kopereck is President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil and sits on the International Lutheran Council’s Executive as representative for Latin America.