Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The candy corn from Halloween wasn’t even on discount before the lights were up and the Christmas music started. And while the world speeds toward Christmas, the Church begins her celebration of her new year with a reading from Holy Week. Makes sense, right? Why is it that the world is wrapping itself in glitter and ornaments, and the church is hearing about Jesus going into Jerusalem to die? Simply put, our life as the body of Christ is centered on the death of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead. We start the new church year with a reminder that the people of God waited a long time for Jesus. The world wants instant gratification with things that don’t really matter, while the church patiently awaits the coming of her Savior.
Since the Fall into sin, God promised that He would send His Son, the Seed to be born of a woman, who would save us from our sins. Advent reminds us that we’re not the only ones who have waited. All the saints who have gone before us longed for Christ to come. Our Old Testament brothers and sisters in the faith waited eagerly for the coming of the Savior. Abraham didn’t live to see it. Neither did Moses, Joshua, David or Isaiah. We rejoice that we get to see their hopes and promises fulfilled by Jesus. But now we wait for His return in glory. And since we have the testimony that Jesus was born and lived and died and rose again, we know that our waiting is not in vain because the Lord always keeps His promises. He promised to send His Son, and He did. And He promised to come again, and since He keeps His promises, we know He will come again.
But Advent also reminds us to wait. It is not for you to figure out when He will return, any more than it was up to Adam and Eve or Abraham and Sarah to fulfill the promise. And they tried. Adam and Eve thought Cain was the chosen one. Abraham and Sarah tried to force the fulfillment of the promise. No; it is for God to fulfill His promises in His time, and it is your job to wait and be ready. We know the He keeps His word. After all, the long-awaited Christ child was born. And then He grew up. He was baptized for you. He was tempted for you. He carried your sins for you. He was handed over for you. Mocked for you. Beaten for you. Spit upon for you. Scourged for you. Dragged to Calvary for you. Nailed to the cross for you. Died for you. And then He rose for you. His resurrection and ascension and all that He has done are yours. The world forgets. It rushes to Christmas and then, the next day, the toys are already forgotten and the gifts are put away or exchanged and just like that, Christmas is over. So it was when the Lord came in the flesh. His people eagerly awaited Him, and when they saw that He was no earthly king, they got tired of Him quickly and got rid of Him. But everything He did, He did for them. Everything He did, He did for you. They waited and waited, and whether they knew it or not, their waiting was not in vain. The Savior came.
Now we wait for the Lord until He comes again. But as we wait for that glorious return, He comes to us even now—not in showy ways, but in ways that are no less real. The Jesus who once came to His people in the prophecies of His Word and in a manger and on a donkey and on a cross, that same Jesus now comes to us in the font to wash and save. He comes in preaching and absolution to forgive. He comes in the Supper of His body and blood to live in us. We know that Jesus has come before. We know that He will come again. In the meantime, we receive Him in His Church, where He has promised to be. His Word and Sacraments are His pledge and promise that He will come again.
Jesus will come again in glory on the clouds of heaven with angels and the sound of the trumpet. He comes that day to raise us from the dead and give us everlasting life. On that day, all that He has done for us will be plainly seen. On that day, the sheep will rejoice and the wise virgins will welcome their bridegroom. His coming is not far away, though it may seem like it some days. In the meantime, He is right here where He has promised to be, reminding us that He is coming soon. Until that day, we live by faith. While the world rushes to prepare for a day that comes quickly and is soon forgotten, the Bride waits. Christ the Bridegroom is coming. We wait with joy. Our Lord is on His way, and He will come soon to deliver us from every evil and even from death itself. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly! In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.