Below is my sermon from Sunday. Advent is one of those seasons that just requires a little more salt in the preaching. So, I added some.
Read after the jump if you like, or listen by clicking HERE. (My voice is soft because of a sore throat.)
Advent – start of new church year. Secular world called “Christmas season.” Not.
Think of seasons of church year – Advent – get ready for Jesus coming at Christmas – Lent – season of penitence, as we consider his death.
Actually – Lent season of teaching in preparation for baptizing on Easter, and receiving new members into fellowship of Lord’s body and blood.
Today – still see that – catechumens are confirmed in their baptism and welcomed to the Lord’s table on Palm Sunday – just in time for Easter.
Advent – not time of preparation for Christmas – Hard to imagine – after all Christmas program for children, Christmas dinner afterward. Next Saturday we decorate the church with Christmas trees. Spend time getting houses ready, getting presents ready, getting everything ready for December 25. Anything that can be done after Christmas, just has to wait, because we are working so hard on getting things ready for Christmas day. But Advent in church not time of preparation for Christmas.
Word advent means, “He comes” certainly preparing for coming of lord, but not coming in manger. Certainly prepare to celebrate it, but he came in manger 2000 years ago – don’t prepare to celebrate coming, when already came. Advent is time to look to coming that hasn’t happened yet. Lord will return to us, to judge Quick and the dead. Advent prepare for return as judge. So advent is time of repentance,
“Repent for kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Repent and turn away from your evil ways and live, because when the judge returns, he will bring wrath and condemnation against the sinner.
Such message of sin and judgment offends our sensibilities.
Advent is time to hear that offensive word again.
Repent for kingdom of heaven is at hand – must repent because your sin. Not just the occasional guilty pleasure, but constant sin deserving of God’s punishment. This is the problem, that no matter how hard you try, always breaking god’s law. Justly Deserve nothing but temporal and eternal punishment. In other words – deserve nothing but sorrow and pain in this life, and eternal pain and suffering in life to come. Disciples said to Jesus – these are hard words, who can accept them.
We can not accept them on our own. You can not hear, understand or believe, unless Holy spirit unstops your ears – that’s how desperate your situation is. The heart of the sinner is cold and dead, and it is the Holy Spirit who must revive it.
Advent is time to repent of our hard-heartedness at not hearing the word, and Join in singing to the one who calls us “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the lord” But we dare never cry out of our own will and authority. Peter who spoke so boldly on Sunday, and Monday and Tue and Wed and Thursday morning of holy week, denied Jesus three times on Thursday night. the crowds melted away, and Jesus was left alone. Even his disciples abandoned him. We are no better, and on your own, you will just as surely abandon your lord to seek after your own perversity in this world. Our only hope is Jesus. And that’s why we celebrate advent – because our decaying sinful flesh is hell bound, and our only hope of salvation is the promise God has given through Jesus death and resurrection – it is our only life. We pray that our Lord would return, and that we would not lose faith as we approach death.
The collect – the prayer of the day today, asks this, “Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance…” Prayer that Jesus would come, and come soon, to save us from ourselves – from the sinful flesh that tries to destroy our faith and trust in God, that tries to turn you away from the Word of God to your own works, to your own efforts. The Gospel reading today is, oddly enough, the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. And our prayer is that we might be delivered from our sins. On Palm Sunday we hear this Gospel reading again, but the prayer is different. We begin that prayer with this, “You sent Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to take upon Himself our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross.” In other words, here is the answer to the prayer of Advent. Jesus, taking your sins away. The Lord is no longer the suffering servant however. He is no longer on the path to death. Now he has been highly exalted. Now we follow where he has gone, through death, into life. And the great judgment that is to come is good news only for those who follow that path, who take up their cross daily and follow him. Who put to death the deeds of the flesh, hear the word of god, and repent of their sin. Who turn away from sin, and look with trust to the promise of salvation in Jesus Christ.
But such repentance is not a work of your own. It is worked in you by the Holy Spirit as you hear the word of God, and come again to receive the body and blood at the altar. That is how God works repentance in your heart – with these simple and foolish things. Just as the king who came to save you arrived riding on a small donkey. God works in his way, and in his time. Not he way we assume it must be. Even better than that, he works in the way he has promised. And he has promised to work where his word is spoken. So hear the word of the Lord. Continue to come to hear the Word in His holy church, where that word is given to you. Repent of your sin, turn away from your sinful flesh, drown the old Adam daily in the waters where you were baptized, and begin anew. Take up your cross, follow Jesus where he goes, through death, and into life. That is the path of the Christian. That is the path he sets before you. That is the path we walk this Advent, through Christmas, Epiphany and Lent, to Good Friday and Easter, and then when you get there, you do it again, and again, and again. It is a path that stretches long and hard in front of you, but it is the path that leads to life.
May God send his spirit so that you can walk that path, so that you would repent of your sin, and turn to Jesus. That he would do this for you every day, until comes again in glory. Amen.