Sunday, December 02, 2012

Sermon: Ad Te Levavi (Advent 1) – 2012

2 December 2012 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA

Text: Matt 21:1-9 (Jer 23:5-8, Rom 13:8-14)

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord.”  The days are coming.  Time is of the essence.  There is a sense of urgency.

’Tis the season!  We rush about between stores and family gatherings and office parties and the post office.  We are buying food and supplies and gifts and wrapping paper.  We are making sure this child gets here, grandma gets there, we don’t forget to pick this item up on the way home, and somehow schedule in that doctor’s appointment.

Of course, in the middle of the busyness, it’s easy to forget what is most important, why the urgency, what the “Behold the days are coming” the Lord is declaring to us.

The days are coming for our King to come to us, for the Lord to raise up the Righteous Branch, for the King to reign and “deal wisely,” to “execute justice and righteousness in the land.”

The days are coming when all of this concern about time will end, because time itself will end.  And with that end comes another end: the end of busyness, the end of scrambling around, the end of having to be here or there, the end of worry, of stress, of money problems, of sickness, of heartache, of sin, of family divisions, and yes, the end of death itself.

“Behold, the days are coming.”

For just as certain as our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem was, having been predicted by the prophets, being waited on for thousands of years by the people, carried out in the fullness of time at the Lord’s own words and deeds – so too will His advent come for us: His return, His final triumph, His coming again to take His throne and crown.  This time, He will not take up a cross and wear a thorny cap – but will rather he hailed in a worldwide triumph that will place Him at the center of the universe, bringing to fulfillment all that has been testified in Scripture.  “Behold, the days are coming…”

For this is what we are really moving toward, dear brothers and sisters.  This is why time is of the essence.  This is why St. Paul tells us to “wake from sleep.”  There is something far more important happening than shopping and parties, than cooking and greeting family members.  For we are preparing the royal highway to meet our King!  We are storing up eternal treasures in heaven to be made ready for the feast that will never end!  We will greet our brothers and sisters of every time and place around the throne of the Lamb, to sing “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”

The first time the Lord came to us, He was helpless and placed into a manger.  He came to us as one of us.  He joined us in our weakness and mortality and yet without sin.  And when He came to claim His kingdom in His ancestral Royal City, He came “humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”  He was cheered entering the city, hailed as King, and led by the crowds to be crowned; but five days later, He would be driven outside the walls of the city, jeered as a rejected pretender, to be crucified.

He suffered for our sins.  He died bearing our punishment.  He was sacrificed to achieve our redemption.  And He was to rise again as victor over death, so that we, His beloeved, might live forever.

And so we wait for this momentous return of our Lord.  “For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.  The night is far gone, the day is at hand.”

Just as we prepare for the busyness of the coming season, so too, dear friends, let us prepare spiritually for the coming age.  Let us be found prepared to greet our Lord in eternity, whether He comes to us at the end of the world, or whether we go to Him at the end of our lives.  For we know not when either event will happen.  But like our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, it will happen.

How are we to be prepared, dear friends?  We have been redeemed by the Lord’s Holy Blood.  We have been baptized by the Lord’s Holy Water.  He have been forgiven by the Lord’s Holy Absolution.  We have been brought into a mystical union with Him through the Lord’s Holy Supper.  He has made us ready by offering to us Himself.  He has invited us to the feast.  He has prepared the way for us to join Him in eternity, leaving behind time itself and all of the hustle and bustle, worry and grief, sickness and death.

Come, dear friends!  Come to Him even as He comes to us this Advent, coming to us men for our salvation as the Baby in Bethlehem, as the King riding on a donkey preparing to take our place at the cross.  Come to Him, dear brothers and sisters,  even as He comes to us, His Bride, as a Conqueror at the end of the age, defeating Satan and death once and for all.  Come to Him, dear Christians, even as He comes to us humble, in the forms of bread and wine, forgiving our sins and drawing us into Himself in the miracle of the Holy Eucharist, for “the night is far gone; the day is at hand.”  Come to Him, dear friends, as He comes to you in the Divine Service, week in and week out, coming to prepare you to join Him in eternity!

And this is how we live out this salvation given to us by our Savior as a free gift: “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

The Lord Jesus loves us and has indeed truly fulfilled the law for us and for our sakes.  And, dear friends, He gives us the strength and the power necessary to love others as well.  This busy holiday season is an opportunity to live in that love, to mend fences, to seek forgiveness, to grant forgiveness, to repent, to “walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord.”  The days are coming.  Time is of the essence.  There is a sense of urgency.  For this is truly important.  This is the greatest gift of all.  “Behold, your King is coming to you!”

“Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”


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In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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