Nov29

The King is Coming!

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First Sunday in Advent

The King is Coming!

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

        Imagine an alternate reality where ever since you were born people always told you about the great day of our Savior’s birth when God our Father in heaven would send His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to save all of the human race from eternal death. Every year you would wait to see the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus Christ being born into this broken sinful world, but he doesn’t come.

        Each year you would prepare for his coming; especially during the season of Advent. Expectantly waiting for the greatest gift of all, the Savior of your soul, you would hope and pray that this year was the year the promise would be fulfilled. Sadly, in this fictional allegory, the baby Jesus does not appear. Yet you are told that it will happen!

        Over and over again you prepare and each year, although you just know he will come this time, no savior comes. How long would you continue to prepare in hopeful expectation? Maybe you would start to doubt the truthfulness of God’s promise. Maybe you would just give up – believing that you will never see it happen in your lifetime.

        As time passes you hear other people say, ‘It will never happen!’ and ‘We were fools to believe!’ And so you start to believe as the world around you believes. You start turning Christmas into a secular holiday where people give each other gifts instead of waiting for the gift of God. Maybe you start believing that the promise was just a metaphor to keep you coming to church and praying to a deaf and mute god. The time of Christmas now becomes a symbol instead of a true promise.

        Sadly, this is what Christmas has become to many people today. Christmas is no longer about Christ but about presents. To many it is about being kind and generous to friends, family and co-workers. It is a time of year to love your neighbor and show good will to your fellow man. Yet people do these ‘good works’ not because of a belief in God but because of a belief in humanity. Such people may call these works being done as being in ‘The Spirit of Christmas’ but they are not thinking of Christ as the cause or reason even though his name is in the label.

        Today is the first Sunday of Advent. A term that refers to the coming of Jesus Christ to earth to provide our salvation literally means “coming” or “arrival”. It is also a term used for this time of the church year as our beginning and to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, incarnate.

        It seems that many people look to this time of year as a beginning, not of worship or praise of the one, true God, but as of the Christmas shopping season. We even see some of them becoming violent in order to obtain their worldly baubles. People fight over items such as toys for their kids or toys for themselves.

        Since 2006, there has been 14 deaths associated with Black Friday shopping. The most recent being 2 shooting deaths in a mall in Sacramento, California. That is one death every year over Barbie dolls and big screen T.V.s

        At what point did material things become more important than a human life? When did the joy of Christ’s birth turn into a brawl for cheap goods? We may think we are immune to such insane bouts of envy and greed but we are not. Coveting after material things is not the only way to sin. Think about what you covet in you day to day life. Do you desire more money in your bank account, more power and control at work or in your household, or maybe you envy what your neighbor has? If you think you do not covet than you are only kidding yourself. We all sin. We all fall short of righteousness.

        When did the celebration of Christmas become the celebration of our greed? Is this our Advent, the beginning of a new age, a new year? We await the arrival of our Lord and King but somehow we have forgotten that Christmas is about being saved from our condemning sin and not reveling in our sin.

        St. Mark writes in our Gospel reading about the Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem. Like the arrival of the baby in the manger, this too was an arrival much awaited. This too was an Advent of the beginning of a new age. It was on a Sunday that Jesus road the colt into the Jerusalem.

Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”

“Hosanna in the highest!” [ Mark 11:8–10]

To them, Jesus was a King, the Son of David. It was he who was to re-instate the kingdom and the people of Israel.

        When their new ‘King’ did not give them what they wanted or what they think they deserved, they turned on him and each other. Crowds of people waited in line to see this King and to receive the blessings of His bounty. They were in the cold darkness of their sin and they only wanted to satisfy their earthly desires.

        In five short days this king would be crucified on a cross. We call that day ‘Good’ Friday and for Christians, it is a good day indeed. Good for us because our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, did not back down from his task and mission. He kept his mind on what was the true purpose of His Advent.

        Yet it was not a day filed with peace and good will toward men. This was the Friday in which Jesus was betrayed by Judas, whipped and flogged, crowned with thorns, and sentenced to death on the cross.

        Our Lord was crucified for the sins of all human kind. Those who crucified him were not so unlike us today. Just as we seek out our own self-gratification with the material things of this world, they also sought to keep their wealth, land and power.

        On the one hand were the kings, pontiffs and rulers who already controlled the country. On the other was the religious ruling class of the Jews who did not want to see a new king of Israel. Like us, they welcomed Christ with praise and blessings at his coming and, like us, within hours they forgot the real purpose and meaning of his Advent.

        Like the news stories, this all sounds like bad news. Yet, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people…” [Luke 2:10] as an angel of the Lord said to the shepherds, in the fields near Bethlehem. For Christ’s death on the cross was only the beginning of His work for our salvation. His death was a dark day indeed, but three days later, His resurrection from the grave showed us the real reason of the season.

        His victory over sin, death and the devil was the beginning of a new age. His triumphal entry into Jerusalem was a foretaste of His triumphant return from His father’s kingdom in heaven. At that time, He will come as King, once and for all. At that time, He will bring all rule and majesty of heaven to earth.

        All who believe and confess Jesus Christ as Lord, will be there to sing praises of Hosanna and to bless the name of the Lord. It will be a true Christ Mass for all eternity.

        This is the coming of the Lord for which we all pray. As Isaiah said so eloquently said:

“Oh, that You would rend the heavens!

That You would come down!

That the mountains might shake at Your presence”— [Isaiah 64:1]

Yes! Let it be so. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

“For since the beginning of the world

Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,

Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,

Who acts for the one who waits for Him.” [Isaiah 64:4]

It is true. There is no other God. We, the people of your church here on earth, wait for you and fervently pray that you come, Lord Jesus.

“For You have hidden Your face from us,

And have consumed us because of our iniquities.

But now, O Lord,

You are our Father;

We are the clay, and You our potter;

And we are all the work of Your hand.” [Isaiah 64:7–8]

        It is the Advent or our King, Redeemer, Savior. We wait for Him with the knowledge that His salvation is true and His promise to come again in all His heavenly glory is true. We are not lacking in any gift, as we wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. [1 Cor. 1:7] We are sustained to the end by He who reigns eternally. God is faithful.

        The Apostle Paul gave thanks to God for the church in Corinth. We give thanks to God for the church here on earth which Jesus himself gave to us. We give thanks to God for His only Son who was made man, was crucified, died and was buried on that Good Friday so long ago. We give thanks to God for the resurrection of His only Son and a life everlasting.

        This gift of grace is a promise fulfilled through Jesus Christ. He has come into the world. We need not wait with uncertainty hoping that this year is the year he comes. We need not substitute the heavenly gift with worldly presents. The remembrance and celebration of the birth of our Savior begins our new year of comfort and joy.

        “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus”