LORD, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, you have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. Deliver me from all my transgressions; do not make me the reproach of the foolish. (Psalm 39:4–5, 7–8)
The Introit for the Last Sunday of the Church Year starts off sounding a little grim. The Psalmist asks the Lord to know his end, his death. Who wants to know how long they’re going to live? The question is a confession of the frailty of the Psalmist. The Psalmist realizes that, just like us, he’s a poor miserable sinner in need of mercy and grace from God. Apart from God’s mercy and grace neither we nor the Psalmist can stand before God. We are all left to the depths of hell.
The Psalmist is helpless on his own and we are, too. So helpless that all we can do is point to the Water and the Word in Holy Baptism and trust in them. Mere water and mere words! That is where our hope resides – in the redeeming work that the Lord has done for us in the waters and Word of Holy Baptism. We look back to our Baptism and know that the Lord is faithful. On the Last Day He will be faithful to His promises, such as the ones He sealed us with at the font.
We pray with the Psalmist that the Lord would deliver us from all of our transgressions. He already has! In Holy Baptism we were clothed in the Lord’s righteousness, while He was waterlogged with our sin. We left the muck of our sinfulness in that water, and it stays there! Lest this gift of God seems far off in time, the Lord reminds us of that forgiveness often. He re-declares it in the words of Holy Absolution when our pastor says, “I forgive you.” Then, every time we eat of His body and drink of His blood, we,yet again,are delivered. We are personally and intimately connected to the Cross where salvation was won for you.
Nothing else matters when you are in the Lord. You can know your end, and even meet it, and none of that can touch or change your Baptism. Nothing can stop God from doing what He has promised, and God has promised to redeem you – the mere vapor that you are.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Glorified, I shall anew With this flesh then be enshrouded; In this body I shall view God, my Lord, with eyes unclouded; In this flesh I then shall see Jesus Christ eternally. (LSB 741.5)