S-1012 12/09/07 2SIA/3A. Hymns: (O)#; (S) #; (C) #
Texts: Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12
Theme: “God’s Desire For YOU!” Romans 15:13
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! The text for this 2nd Sunday in Advent is a portion of the Epistle Lesson: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen” (Romans 15:13).
Saints in Christ, this time of the year is the season of family. Some of my greatest Christmas memories are tied to family gathering both in the old country and the new. The trips are memorable. The gatherings are memorable. Even some of the down times are memorable. But the common denominator is family. Part of a being in a family is the joy of doing things for the people we love. We care about them and want to be a blessing to them.
During this blessed Season, our attention turns towards how we can fill the desires of those we love. Sometimes, we have to ask what their desire is. Husbands, you know what I am talking about. “Honey, what do you want for Christmas?” She hems and haws and then says, “Oh, I don’t know…” It’s a trap! You know that if you don’t come through, it will be hard on your wife and you! With kids it is a lot easier. Kids don’t have a problem telling you what they desire. When my children were little (and even when not so little) they would tell us of their desires—they would have a Wish book that is marked with their desires in red, or sometimes circled. It would be easy to identify their desire by simply reading the book or magazine.
This season of Advent and Christmas is a season of desire as well. It is all about God’s desire for you. This desire is totally different than the trapping desire of a loved one or a limitless desire of children. It is NOT about getting them the latest gadget, gimmick, or gizmos. Rather it is about something more substantial. It is all about God’s limitless, eternal desire to have you as His very own. God desires to give you the opportunity to live with Him for ever.
How do we know of this desire? Well, like my family with the Wish book, we are called to “just look at the Book!” Today we turn to the Book of Romans. What we find in these words from St. Paul that were written first to the Romans Christians and meant for us on this day, is that our God has a desire to have you as His very own. This is not a new desire. This desire is greater than the desire of kids to have their wishes fulfilled. It is a desire to love and care for you that has lasted longer than the desire you have had for your spouse. It is a desire rooted in the heart of God from before the first, “Let there be…” and it continues today unabated. Nothing can change this desire either. God’s desire was evident at the fall. When Adam and Eve sinned and ran away, God went looking for them, covered their shame with garments and protected them from the eternal death by removing them from the Garden. That wasn’t God’s desire for His people. Rather in the midst of Words of judgment, there were words of joy. In the midst of punishment there was a promise. This promise was for a Savior that would clothe God’s people in a new garment, a garment of righteousness. God’s desire to give forgiveness and life to His people oozes and drips from every page of Holy Scriptures. This is why Paul says what he says. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have HOPE”. This hope is not rooted in what we desire. It is a hope that is rooted firmly in God’s heart. God’s desire is to have YOU as His beloved children. God’s desire is to be your God. It is God’s desire that you be freed from every baggage and burden, sin and sorrow, grief and agony, despair and death. God’s desire for the sinner—you and me, was evident in the heavenly sent Savior, who came to earth, tasted hunger and thirst, loneliness and grief and death on the cross for YOU. God’s desire is to give you the songs of praise that shout from your lips.
We in no way deserve this desire. God’s desire is foolishness to us. It doesn’t make sense that someone could love us so much. Could give us so much. Do you have any idea who it is that God desires? He desires you! Sure that makes us feel good, but YOU? ME? You have to be kidding. We know who we are. We may well be respectable looking on the outside. The world may look at us and say that we sure have it all together. Nice job. Good kids. A Member of Christ’s Church. But we know the truth about ourselves. We give a glimpse of it to those who are gathered here together in God’s house each week by the Holy Spirit. We confess that we are poor, miserable sinners. We confess that we sin daily. This daily sin is not just little bits and pieces of our life. It is in every part of our life. We know ourselves. The truth is, most of the time, we don’t even desire ourselves, let alone be the desire of God’s heart. This is God we are talking about here!! The King of the Universe, The Almighty Creator, The HOLY One desires YOU, ME—hopeless, hapless, and helpless sinners.
That is what makes this season so special. It is all about making His desires know to us. This desire is so strong that it would lead an Eternal Father to send His only Son into the womb of a virgin. This desire would drive that same Son all the way from Nazareth to Jerusalem. This desire would lead Him to exchange a Manger for a Cross, new life for death. FOR YOU!
This desire is too good to be true. But it is! We have God’s Word on it. That is why it is so critical for us to hear and read and study and immerse ourselves in this Word. It is so critical that we here at Redeemer have declared 2008 the Year of the Word. Our study does not earn us a spot in God’s heart. Our study will not allow us to do good enough that we will pass eternity’s entrance exam. Rather our study is to remind us of God’s gracious desire for us! Reading the book points us to God’s desire for us!
Every week, we are privileged to see this desire play out as people leave their homes, and come to the home of the Lord. Each week we are blessed to see God’s desire unfolds as He forgives us our sins and blesses us with His Word and Sacrament. What blessed people to gather Sunday after Sunday to learn anew of the desire of our loving Father. Here, brothers and sisters come to know the depth of God’s desire for them. As they receive and confess that desire with us each week, we are reminded just how far and high and wide and deep is God’s desire for us.
God’s desire for us is what caused Christmas. God’s desire for us is what caused Easter! God’s desire for us is what sends us out into the world to announce this desire to a world that is filled with all too many desires. Of these, C.S. Lewis said, Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
But God’s desires are greater. He is not pleased with anyone being left in the mud. He offers us not a holiday at sea, but a blessed time in the arms of our Messiah, with our Savior and Lord, to spend an endless joy and peace with Him in Paradise.
The Apostle Paul speaks of the wonderful message on HOPE—faith toward the future based on what God has done in the past. HOPE is rooted in God’s heart, printed on the pages of Scripture, wrapped in cradle, nailed on a cross, and chiseled in the wounds of the risen Savior!
As we move deeper into this season, we recall that this is a season of desires. Not of our desire, but God’s. And this gives us comfort! Paul says it better than I. May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Now the peace of God…