Monday, December 1, 2014

Advent 1 Sermon: "Hosanna, Lord Save Us"

+ Advent 1 – November 30th, 2014 +

Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series B: Isaiah 64:1-9; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 11:1-10

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down…

God will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ…

Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 

Isaiah, Paul, the Palm Sunday crowd – they sound the Advent bell. They give us the word of the season: coming. That’s what Advent means: Jesus is coming. The King is coming.

While the world counts the Black Friday profits and prepares for Cyber Monday, the Christian church prepares for the Advent of Jesus.

Advent is an oasis from the shopping mall mayhem. Advent calls us to be sober, keep watch; it is a season of hope, expectation, and longing that flies in the face of our sinful desires for instant gratification.

No wonder Advent is unfamiliar to the world. Most people, if asked, would say it’s a time to get ready for Christmas: buy your Trader Joe’s chocolate advent calendars; countdown the shopping days until Christmas; a time for cooking and baking. And there’s nothing wrong with any of those things. But there’s something more going on.

Advent is really a season of three Advents, three comings of our Lord. We look backward to his coming in humility: a baby born in a feeding trough; a man of sorrows acquainted with grief; a suffering servant who rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey to die for the sins of the world…to die for you.

We also look forward to his second coming. The Day of the Lord. Even now in the darkness, Light has dawned. Get ready. The One who came in humility and who comes by Word and Sacrament will come in glory for you.

And while we look backward to his first coming in human flesh and forward to his coming in glory, Jesus comes in the hidden glory of words, water, bread, and wine here, today. Jesus is truly Immanuel – God with us. God with us in the Word read and the absolution given. God with us in our Baptism. God with us by His body and blood. We join the crowds in praising our King as we prepare to receive his body and blood.

Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 

We need Advent. For we come to this season – each of us – bearing different burdens. We see the world around us coming unglued. Infectious diseases. Civil unrest and rioting. Political tension on all sides. Wars and rumors of wars. An economy quick to collapse and slow to recover.

We see our families nearer to us struggling as well. Cancer and illnesses plague those closest to us. Families struggling to make ends meet. Close friends and dear loved ones die, all of them sooner than we’d like. Grief seems to hit us hardest around the holidays.

These are not abstract people or examples. They are all of us. They are your brothers and sisters in Christ in this congregation. Think about who might need your help, or who is hurting but won’t ask for assistance. Certainly we rejoice together, but during this Advent season do not neglect to suffer with one another; to bear one another’s burdens.

Life in this fallen world causes us to cry out with Isaiah: “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down.” Haven’t we all had an Isaiah 64 moment? Come down, O Lord and save. Come down, O Lord and rescue. Our world needs Advent.
We need Advent.

For we also come bearing the burden of our own sin. We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Advent is also a season of repentance. That’s how our Lord prepares us for all of his comings among us. But repentance leads us to another word: a cry for mercy, a renewed call of faith’s trust in the mercy and promise of God. Hosanna – which means Lord save us. Lord, have mercy on me a sinner. “Be not so terribly angry, O Lord, and remember not iniquity forever.”
Yes, our righteousness is like filthy rags in dire need of laundering. “Don’t remember it, Lord.” “Forgive our iniquities and remember our sins no more, as you have promised.” We are your people. We are baptized. You have claimed us with your Name. You have marked us as your own possession. Now don’t forget us.” God remembers us, but He chooses to remember not our sins…all because of Jesus, your Advent King.
That’s the promise of Advent – the Lord does not forget you. The Light shines in the darkness; a new day dawns. The King comes in lowliness to be clothed in all of our filthy rags. The King enters Jerusalem to be humbled under the Law to redeem us from the law. The King lays down his life for you. The King is forsaken for you. The King stoops down, all the way down to death and the grave in order to carry you and the whole sinful world upon his shoulders. The King conquers death by dying for you. Through Jesus’ death you are clothed in his righteousness. Through Jesus’ humility you are exalted. Through Jesus’ forsakenness you are reconciled to God. Through Jesus’ cross you are prepared for his Second Advent. And from his cross comes the fruit of life and salvation this Advent. 
Jesus is your Immanuel: God “with us” in Baptism, in the Supper, in the spoken Word of forgiveness in His Name. Jesus is with us as He promised, “I will be with you always until the end of the ages.” Advent is a reminder that Jesus hasn’t really gone anywhere in going to heaven. Rather, He’s returned to His former glory at the right hand of the Father in order that He might be “all in all” and “fill all things in every way.” So, in Advent we are waiting for the One who is already here now. The kingdom we are waiting for is the kingdom that has already come. The glory we are waiting for is the glory that is already here, now in a humble and hidden way, but still very much here.
That’s why we sing Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! When we go to Holy Communion. The same King who came to Jerusalem in humility upon a donkey, now comes in the humble forms of bread and wine, with his body and blood to save you.
Rejoice for, “we are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Dear baptized children of God, you lack nothing. Christ’s gifts overflow here for you. Where the Word is preached, where the Body and Blood of Christ are, where there is Baptism, there you have every spiritual gift needed to prepare the way of the Lord. And Jesus gives you those gifts – His gifts of water, word, body and blood, whether you feel it or not; whether you’re having a Happy Advent or a Merry Christmas or not; even if the world is raging around you; and sin and death are knocking at our door. Jesus comes in Advent for you.
Jesus came for your rescue in Jerusalem. He’ll come again to return you to your heavenly home with him when he comes in glory. And he comes today to forgive you, to sustain in your Advent journey, and to fill your hearts and minds with Advent joy, to sing with all the saints:
Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Indeed. Blessed are you who come in the name of the Lord.
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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