Advent 1 2021
November 28, 2021
Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID
In our Old Testament reading from Jeremiah 23, we hear the word of God, “Behold, the days are coming…” Over the course of the last few weeks, we have heard about the coming of the Day of the Lord, the Messiah, the King of all creation. We heard about the Last Day, the day of judgment of the sheep and goats, when all the heavens and the earth will be burned up, and there will be a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells, for the righteous branch of David, the One called the Lord is our righteousness, Jesus Himself will reign. We heard that we must stay awake while we wait for Him and not fall asleep, but above all to be prepared like the five wise virgins supplied with the oil of the Word and Sacraments for their lamp with is faith. As the Church Year ended, we were reminded, vividly, that the clock is winding down. That the earth, as we know it, has an expiration date, as do we.
If we are prepared now for our Lord’s Coming in His Word and Sacraments, we are fully prepared also for His second coming when He brings the fullness of salvation. So as we start a new Church again, with the dominant theme of the Lord’s Coming, for His Advents are connected. Our preparations to celebrate Christ’s coming at Christmas are meant to be preparations for His coming at the end of the world. When we hear that Jesus is coming, this message is the call to prepare our hearts and lives for His grace, to be ready for His coming. That means that when you decorate your homes with Advent wreaths and calendars, Christmas trees and lights, these things ought to point to Jesus and ought to prepare you to celebrate His birth but also His coming again. The season of Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas, but not to prepare us from God’s birth as a true man, but to commemorate, remember and honor and prayerfully consider this historic event and its meaning in our lives here and now and in His second coming.
Advent reminds us that now is a good time to become reacquainted with the voice in the wilderness, John the Baptist, preparing the way of the Lord, in his call for repentance and faith; that babe in the manger, with the man who walked the seas and calmed the storms, the man who made the blind to see and the deaf to hear, the man who is God's eternal Son, the man who hung upon the tree and died, and then rose again. The man who is God in the flesh who will come one day soon. While no one knows the hour or day of Jesus’ return, you know that the time has come for you to wake from sleep of misbelief, of apathy and indifference (modified from a post by Dr. Peter Scaer).
It is interesting how St. Paul talks about this in Romans 13. He says, “The hour has come for you to wake from sleep.” More accurately, he uses an idiom and the passive voice to say that it is the right time to be raised from spiritual slumber; to be raised by the God who raises Jesus our Lord from the dead. Paul uses similar language in Ephesians 5:14, when he possibly quotes a baptismal hymn and says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
What Paul is getting at here is connecting the resurrection from unbelief to belief and death to life, from His coming now to His coming then. So not even when we doze off in this life, when we hit the snooze button on the wakeup call of the Word of Christ, or even sleep in death, prevents Jesus from raising up His people from unbelief to faith, then from death to life.
This life is night and eternity is the morning. This season of Advent is your alarm clock. It’s time to wake up Zion from the night and the slumber of sleep and complacency in your faith to be raised up in baptismal living, Salvation is nearer now than when you first believed! The night is far spent, and the dawn of the rising Son of God is growing near. St. Paul encourages us, then, that now is the time to cast off the works of darkness. How do you fight against these sins, to make no provision for the flesh to gratify your sinful desires? First, St. Paul says, “Put on the armor of light,” and then a little later, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” This is baptismal language. So in other words, you live out your baptism every day, walk properly in faith and recognition that your manner of living matches up with the reality of who God has declared you to be through those blessed waters – an adopted child of God, holy and set apart from the works of darkness to love the Lord and love your neighbor, and an heir along with Christ of the gift of eternal life. Wrap yourselves in your baptismal identity, for this covers all your sin, is your protection against attacks, and the comfort of the Gospel. Clothed in Christ, Satan cannot hurt you and the King will recognize you as His own when He comes in His Word and Sacraments but also with His mighty deliverance at His second coming in glory.
Don’t wait lest it be too late and Jesus catches you with your hand in the cookie jar of sin. Make no provision for the sinful flesh. Guard your soul. Let me ask you this. In your life, would you be comfortable in whatever you are doing, to have Jesus sitting right next to you while you do it? Watching TV, looking at the internet, outside in the yard or garage, what you do apart from the prying eyes of other people. Would you be comfortable having Jesus sitting right next to you? We are reminded today as we hear about Palm Sunday and Jesus being welcomed as the King and the Messiah who has come to save, that He comes not just into the world, but it comes in our very lives. Whatever sins you are struggling with, whatever forgiveness you refuse to give, whatever grudge you are holding, whatever bad habit you have formed, whatever idol you have erected in your life, whatever misbelief you have insisted upon that goes against God’s Word, now is the time to wake up, cast off those works, repent, and act like and believe that Jesus is your King. This is what it means to walk properly as in the daytime.
Wake up! Wait, hope, trust, be ready. Join your voices to the crowds on Palm Sunday, opening proclaiming that Jesus is the coming Messiah, the King of all, “Hosanna! Save us now!” Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Sinners exiled from God, beset by powerful enemies, threatened by sin, lift up your hearts and voices in the great prayer of the Advent season that the Son of God would stir up His power and come!