Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, December 02, 2012

First Sunday in Advent


First Sunday in Advent (C)
The Baptism of Olivia Grace Fulk

December 2, 2012
Text: Luke 19:28-40

            Jesus comes.  He comes for you.  He comes to you.  He comes because you cannot come to Him.  That’s the point of Advent.  Advent means “coming.”  It is a season of preparation for the Christian Church.  Because a coming of this magnitude, God in the flesh for you, merits a little forethought and intentional consideration, meditation, to say the least.  There is so much to do to get ready for Christmas, we are heard to lament.  There’s the shopping and the cleaning and the cooking and the baking, the decorations with which to deck the halls and the greetings to stamp and send off to loved ones far and near.  There’s the company Christmas party and the concerts with the kids, and the this and the that and the other thing.  We hustle and we bustle and we drive ourselves mad because there is so much to do.  And the danger is that in all our preparing for all the trimmings of the holiday, we never really prepare for the holy day, for that which alone is important.  Jesus comes.  It gives us pause.  It should, anyway.  The Church pauses for a season of preparation, a season of meditation upon the mystery of the Savior’s coming to and for us, a season of rumination upon His Word of grace, a season of repentance, and a season of tenacious faith that lives to behold the Christmas Gift of God all wrapped up in swaddling clothes for us and for our salvation.
            Jesus comes.  It is a three-fold coming.  He comes as incarnate God, flesh and blood God, the only-begotten Son of the Father, conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, Emmanuel, God with us.  He comes to be the Savior, in the fullness of time, to live under the Law for us who are under the Law, to fulfill it for us, to suffer for us, to die for us, to be raised again from the dead for us.  That’s the first coming.  But He will also come again, visibly, in His risen flesh, on the clouds, with the holy angels, to judge the living and the dead.  That coming will be our deliverance from this world of sin and sadness and death.  That is His second coming, the coming for which we hope with eager anticipation.  And in the meantime, there is His coming in His means of grace, His Word and His Sacraments.  He comes to you now, right here in His Church, speaking to you in Scripture and sermon and Absolution.  He came to you in your Baptism, as He came to Olivia Grace this morning, including you in His death and resurrection, making you God’s own child, imparting to you His Holy Spirit and Christian faith.  He comes to you now, right here at the altar, with His true body and blood, given and shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins.
            Jesus comes to you because you cannot come to Him.  Jesus comes for you because you cannot live unless He does.  Do you understand this mystery?  Do you understand what unbelievably good news is given us to believe?  In all your running around, vainly trying to fulfill the obligations of the season, you’ve made Christmas depend on you.  You’ve made yourself the lord and savior.  If you don’t get it all done, Christmas will fail, you think.  And guess what, if you’re depending on you, Christmas will fail, because you’re already a failure, a poor, miserable sinner, as you’ve so often confessed.  That’s the point.  We’re failures.  We’re sunk.  We’re dead.  We’re damned.  Curved in on ourselves, despising God and His Word, His commandments, we’re doomed.  And we can’t do a thing about it.  So Jesus does.  Jesus comes.  This is such unbelievably good news that if you don’t sing His praise, the very stones will cry out (Luke 19:40).  Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest” (v. 38; ESV). 
            We sing these same words, of course, when the Lord Jesus comes to us, really and substantially, with His true body and blood in the Lord’s Supper.  Because just as He came into Jerusalem that day, humble and riding on a donkey, riding forth as the Messianic sacrifice, the Passover Lamb, to take away the sins of the world, so now He comes to us, having taken away our sin, to give us the fruits of His cross for our forgiveness and eternal life.  And in this way we are prepared for the Day when He comes again in glory to judge.  We know the judgment.  The Prophet Jeremiah already proclaimed it to us this morning (33:16): “The LORD is our righteousness.”  The verdict is “not guilty, innocent, righteous.”  Jesus is our righteousness.  And He gives Himself to us as our righteousness as He comes to us in His Word and in His Sacrament.
            So Jesus comes, to you and for you, because you are weak, because you are sinful, because you have no righteousness of your own.  He comes to you because the world despises you, because the devil’s attacks are relentless and you have no power to stand against him, because your sinful flesh is overcome by selfish passions.  He comes because you are a straying lamb in need of the Good Shepherd to lead you to green pastures and the water of life.  He comes to be your strength, your holiness, your righteousness.  He comes to be your mighty fortress against persecution and the devil’s onslaught.  He comes to be the crucifixion of your flesh and your new life.
            Well then, maybe the frantic Christmas mania with which we burden ourselves is unnecessary.  Maybe the only important thing this Christmas is to receive the Christmas gift of Jesus as He comes to you here, in His Word and Sacrament, in His Church.  Maybe Advent is worthy of our full-fledged participation this year.  I think you know it’s more than a maybe.  Because all your Lord asks of you this season is to receive more and more of Him.  It is no burden.  It is pure gift and grace.  He comes to you.  He comes for you.  Rejoice.  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.      

 

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