Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Sermon for 11/27/16: First Sunday in Advent

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Anticipation and Fulfillment

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

What is it that drives millions to wait for hours in the dark and the cold on the morning after Thanksgiving Day for a department store to open? What is it that possesses young men to wait in line for hours to purchase the new video game console? What is it that keeps deer hunters on their stands for hours on end? It is what happens at the end of all of that waiting. Their expectations are met; their hopes are realized. Those who waited in department store lines get their bargains. The young men get their cool new video game console. The hunters tag their bucks and does. The waiting and the hoping are over, and what has happened has made the wait worthwhile.
This is the Christian life: a life of waiting and hoping, and then realizing that all that waiting was so worthwhile! We see this in the lives of the Old Testament saints. For forty centuries, they had waited. God had promised a Savior from sin immediately after man committed the first sin. And so the people of God waited for their hope for a Savior to be realized.
During the next twenty centuries, God continued to give descriptions about the promised Savior. Jeremiah, for example, proclaimed that the Savior would be born in the line of Judah. In giving prophesies, God showed His goodness and mercy toward His people, calling us to task for being impatient with Him and His ways and renewing our hope through His Word. And so the people of God waited for their hope for a Savior to be realized.
And, finally, the day was at hand! The long-expected Savior had come into the world! Jesus revealed Himself to be the promised King when He entered the city of Jerusalem on the donkey colt. The people of God had waited for their hope for a Savior to be realized…and it was. The waiting was over. What they had anticipated with hope had now happened!
And what happened made the long wait worthwhile! For the One who was paraded into Jerusalem and lauded as the King on that Sunday was paraded out of Jerusalem the following Friday, condemned as a criminal. The Lamb of God was being led out of the city to the slaughter. His day had come. His long wait was over, too. He had waited patiently from the very beginning of eternity for this day; He had been born in flesh for this very moment. The Father had held back His wrath against all the sins of the world, and now He was going to unleash His wrath against His only Son, the One carrying our sin in His Body. The wait was over. What the Triune God had anticipated was now happening: the Father put His Son to death for sin so that we, His adopted children, would not perish in sin. Because of Christ’s sacrificial death, the Father forgives the sins of the entire world: from the original sin of Adam to the final sin of the last man on earth.
Like the Old Testament saints, our lives also are lives of waiting. We await the Second Coming of the same Savior. And we, too, have waited long. It has been nearly twenty centuries since the Lord ascended with the promise that He would come again, to usher in the new heavens and the new earth, our eternal dwelling place with Him and with each other.
In the meantime, we wait for His final coming. But as we wait, He comes to us in humbler ways—but these ways are no less fulfilling for us, for He comes to us in the mouths of pastors who speak His forgiveness to us. He comes to us in the preaching of His Word. He comes to us in His body and blood. And all these humble comings of Christ prepare us for that final coming in glory, when He will come to us, when we will never again be able to be parted from Him…and it will be worth the wait! 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.

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