Monday, December 02, 2019

Sermon for 12/1/19: First Sunday in Advent

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Knowing and Understanding

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

In Jesus, the power of God is hidden in weakness. His wisdom is hidden in foolishness, His riches in poverty. God is a Man, flesh and bone. He dies our death. His life becomes our life. Justice condemns the Innocent One in mercy. The Holy One of God becomes sin. He rides into Jerusalem as the Ransom. He breathes His last, but the devil is undone. Hell’s walls are demolished; the flaming sword of Eden is extinguished. The angel of death passes over. Who can know and understand the ways of the Lord?
The donkey seems to know. He knows his Master. The children know, too. They sing God’s praise in the Temple. They ask Him to save them. The Temple veil knows its part; having nothing more to hide, no longer separating God and man, it rips in two. And the centurion knows; at the death of Jesus he confesses: “Surely this is the Son of God.” Who knows these things? No one but God knows, truly. Yet He reveals Himself to men, and with Him all things are possible. And through the grace of the Holy Spirit, you know, too. God’s grace is sufficient.
Jesus comes in power, but He is known in weakness. He is the Lord of Life, but we celebrate the victory won in His death. He came before; He will come again. First He came in humility; this time He will come in glory. Every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess, “Jesus is Lord.” And all the sons of God will be revealed. All the universe will know what the angels already know. The dogs and trees, rocks and birds, will see the hope within you, your lamp burning with the oil of faith. They will see the blood-washed children of God; they will see you as the child of God in whom the Father is well-pleased. And so we pray: “Stir up your power, O Lord, and come to rescue us from the threatening perils of our sins, and save us by Your promised deliverance.”
Jesus comes already now. He comes, His power hidden in weakness. It is not the power of might and strength as the world counts such things. It is the power of love, of deliverance and protection. It is the power of sacrifice. This grace has made Him your Lord. He rules in you through forgiveness. He comes in humble ways, so that you would look upon Him and not be destroyed. God has a face. By faith you gaze upon the face of the Child born of Mary, the face of a Man. And though He was despised and rejected, He is beautiful to you. His feet, pierced and scarred, are most beautiful, for He brings Good News from God. He has reconciled you to His Father. He has opened heaven to you. He fulfills His promise. He keeps His Word. He is your God, and you, by grace, are His people, His beloved Bride. He comes now in power. He is not a god who looks on from a distance. He is our present, promise-keeping God.
A Man sits at the right hand of God and rules the Universe. He is God and Man, and through Him all mankind is welcome in heaven. He is in heaven, but He is also present here. He is hidden in and under bread and wine, in the voice of His messengers, in His Name. He is seen by faith; He reveals Himself to you in His Word and gifts. Who can understand such things? The donkey can, and the children, the Temple veil, even the Centurion. And by the power of the Spirit, you know and understand. God Himself makes you worthy. His grace is sufficient. You see His face and live. 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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