Blessed is He Who Comes

First Sunday in Advent /December 2, 2018 / Deacon Rex E. Watt

Jeremiah 33:14-16 / 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 /Luke 19:28-40

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit +  Amen

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

When you were on a road trip with your family, did your kids ever ask, “Are we there yet?”  It seems that children march to a different drumbeat of time than parents do.  All they know is that they are on the way to Grandma’s, or maybe Disneyland, and they just want to be there.  They are not interested in the journey.  Their only focus is on the destination.  The Church and the World are like that too.  They march to different drumbeats.  To the world, it’s already Christmas.  And in case you haven’t noticed, it’s getting earlier and earlier each year.  I can remember when the first Christmas decorations in the stores came out after Thanksgiving.  Then they started showing up before Thanksgiving.  This year, I’m pretty sure I started to see stuff show up in the stores before Halloween!  It seems that they cannot get enough of Christmas.  But a Christmas without Christ is no Christmas.

But for the Church, it’s not Christmas yet.  Christmas is still four weeks away.  It’s Advent.  And by the way, in the Church year, Christmas officially starts at the Vigil of Christmas, known as Christmas Eve, and lasts for 12 days, beginning on Christmas Day.  Do you see how the Church and the world march to a different time?  To the world, Christmas is this ever increasing time of shopping that culminates on Christmas day.  The day after is called Boxing Day.  And while there appears to have been some sort of charitable basis for the establishment of Boxing Day, it seems to have devolved into the day you pack up all the Christmas decorations (since Christmas is over) and get on with life.  But for the Church, it’s not Christmas yet.  It’s Advent.

So, what is Advent?  Advent comes from the Latin word “Adventus” which means “coming, or arrival.”  It is the season of the Church year during which we turn our attention to the “coming” of Jesus.  You may be wondering about the texts for today’s readings.  If Advent is about the coming of Christ and precedes Christmas, shouldn’t we be hearing about the Virgin Mary; Bethlehem; a star; a manger?  Why are we reading about Jesus riding on a donkey into Jerusalem?  Dear Saints of Redeemer, the readings for this First Sunday of Advent lay the foundation for what we are going to hear for the next four weeks, and beyond.  They speak of Jesus’ coming to us, and for us; past, present, and future.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.  In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.”  The next verse following our Old Testament reading says, “For thus says the Lord, ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel…’”  Jeremiah wrote these words some 600 years before the birth of Jesus.  Jesus came, as promised, to fulfill the promises God the Father made with His people.  Those promises began all the way back in the Garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve’s fall into sin, which plunged all of humanity, including you and me, into enmity with God.  The Lord gave this first promise when He said to the serpent in Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  Later, the Lord promises to Abraham, “Through thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Gen 22:18)  And in 2 Samuel 7:12 the Lord promises to King David, “I will raise up thy seed after thee, who shall build a house to my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”  The Apostle Paul in the book of Galatians identifies this Seed, as Christ.

This Christ, this Jesus, your Jesus, comes riding into Jerusalem in our Gospel text for today, which also being read on Palm Sunday gives us a clue as to why we hear it again today.  This is Jesus coming into Jerusalem at the start of what is to become Holy Week.  He is coming to die.  Make no mistake about it, Jesus knows why He is here.  He is here to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah which we heard in our Introit, “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation…”  He is riding a donkey, not a war horse.  He is not here to overthrow the Romans, but to overthrow Satan’s rule over the world.  A thousand years earlier King David, on a donkey, rode out of this very city fleeing Absalom’s rebellion.  Today, Jesus, the true Son of David, is riding into Jerusalem to face the rebellion of sin, death, and the devil, and to give His life as a ransom for you, for me, and for the world.

We needed Jesus’ first coming.  Had he not come as the Babe of Bethlehem he could not have ridden into Jerusalem to fulfill God’s plan for your salvation and mine.  We are going to have plenty of opportunity to marvel at the Gift of God in the Incarnation of Christ in the weeks to come.  As we wait, let us not be like children who whine, “Are we there yet?”  Rather let us be like the Psalmist who wrote, “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.  O my God, in you I trust: let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.  Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame… Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths…for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”

We need Jesus’ second coming.  In case you haven’t noticed, the world seems like it’s going to hell in a hand-basket.  That shouldn’t surprise you.  Paul wrote about it in the early chapters of his letter to the Romans.  Jesus has been talking about it for the past few weeks in our Gospel lessons.  He will come, as promised; just as He came as promised the first time.  And when He does, dear Saints, He will finally “establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father.”

In the meantime, as we reflect on Jesus’ first coming in the weeks ahead, and as we await his second coming whenever that may be, let us remember His promise to be with us always, to the end of the age.  Jesus comes to you today in the humility of His Word and Sacrament to deliver the fruits of His Passion: the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life.  He comes to you in His living and active Word, whether you hear it proclaimed from this pulpit, read it on your own, or study it in Bible class.  He comes to you in the word of forgiveness pronounced in the Absolution each Divine Service.  He comes to you every time you remember your Baptism when you repent of your sins.  He comes to you in a most real manner when you partake of His body and blood here at the foot of this Altar.  This Jesus, your Jesus, who was born in a manger in Bethlehem; who rode into Jerusalem to be our sacrifice; who laid down His life on the cross for our sins; who rose in triumph to defeat our enemy: death; who ascended to the right hand of the Father, is the one who came for you; comes to you now; and will come to get you and take you to be with Him forever.  Blessed is He who comes.  Come, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

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