S-1221 2MIA/3A 12/08/10 Hymns (O) #73 vv 1-3; (S) #74; (C) #73:4-5
Text: Isaiah 13:9-13; Revelation 6:12-17; Luke 21:25-36
Theme: “He Will Return!!!” (Luke 21:25-28)
Question: “Are you anticipating anyone to come to your home for Christmas?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Second Midweek in Advent is from the Gospel lesson: “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:25-28).
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
People of God, chosen and beloved His most holy Bride: tonight we continue with our Midweek Advent Sermon series “Did You Know…?” Did you know that the great magician and escapologist Harry Houdini right before his death told his wife and doctor, “that he will return from the other side of the dead, or at least communicate with them?” However, he neither communicated nor returned. Many of our brave men and women who have gone to war, have said, “I will return!” Some however never did; they paid the ultimate price—of giving their lives for this great nation. Did you know that when Jesus said, “He will return”, that He meant it?
Tonight, the Holy Spirit challenges us as we contemplate these words of the Babe of Bethlehem in our Gospel reading. In this portion of the Word of the Lord we are reminded and challenged to be alert for Christ’s return—to be on guard and to watch.
As I mentioned to you before that Advent means coming. And we live in the tension between His first and second coming. In Advent, we already know the nativity story and our Savior’s first and humble incarnational coming, we already know of His coming into our lives in Baptism and through His life-giving Word, but we know that His triumphal coming is not yet here. And, we anticipate it with great joy! Liturgically, it works very well to follow the anticipatory mood reflected by those who, ages ago, longed for His first Advent just as we long for His final Advent. And so Advent is this season of irony in which we both celebrate and anticipate Jesus’ Advent(s).
Luther Reed (Worship, Fortress, 1959, p. 39) gives this nice Advent statement: “The Lutheran Church regards [Advent] as a time of sober penitence mixed with holy joy. It serves not only as a preparation for Christmas, but as an introduction to the entire church year. Early Lutheran writers said that the church in Advent celebrates the lowly coming of Christ in the flesh, His spiritual and daily coming in the hearts of the faithful, and His glorious return to judge. The Lessons, Collects, and other Propers stress the importance of spiritual preparation, sober living, and faithful witnessing.”
Yes, Advent is a time that we, His most beloved, chosen and Holy Bride, prepare our hearts for the coming of the Savior lest we be caught off guard. During these days of Advent our eyes stay focused on the Messiah who promised to return.
While we wait, we don’t lose heart at what we see. Certainly there are many signs of terror and trouble, pain and punishment, sorrow and sadness. Those who don’t know the Lord are fearful of the end days and Christ’s return. They will be caught unaware as the people of New York woke up on 9-11, and the people of Haiti with the earthquake and soon the debris and mayhem filled the air. Dead bodies were everywhere and people ran for their lives hiding from the horror that they were witnessing.
This is the picture that Luke describes for us. When the Lord returns, He is not coming down as the humble child of the manger, but as the Everlasting King of the Universe and the Judge of all people. No one will escape this terrible and frightful day.
Indeed Jesus will return as promised. You can take His Word to heart. He told His disciples that the Son of Man, must go to Jerusalem, suffer, be crucified, die and be buried and on the third day He will rise again. And He has risen from the grave and proved once and for all that His Word is true and faithful.
Even now, He comes to us through His mighty and powerful Word to bring us the joy of heaven while living on earth. The hymn writer captured this when he wrote: “He came down to earth from heaven, Who is God and Lord of All. Christ, by highest heav’n adored, Christ the everlasting Lord, Late in time behold Him come, Offspring of a virgin’s womb. Veiled in flesh the God-head see, Hail the incarnate Deity! Pleased as Man with man to dwell, Jesus, our Immanuel. (Hark the Herald Angels Sing vs. 2)
Yes, the Immanuel, God with us has come and He will return. He will return on the final day by the mighty power of His cross. For us—you and me—His chosen, beloved and Holy Bride, have nothing to fear—for He returns in glory to bring us healing and forgiveness, joy and peace. He will return as He promised.
For us His most Holy Bride, we need not wait for His return to bask in His glory. We have it now and we celebrate it even as we anticipate His return because He comes to forgive, to bless, to deliver and to enrich our lives beyond our wildest imagination. He comes not only for a brief time, but to dwell with us and take us to be with Him where He abides—in the glory of heaven. PAUSE.
And who is this who will return? Who is this that causes us to plan great feasts to be shared with our families? For His sake we put aside our differences for a short time and try to get along, if only for a few hours. In His honor we give gifts to one another, are nice to one another, try to recapture the warm, loving feelings we remember from childhood. Who is this guy? Who is this miracle worker? Who is this person who comes once a year and makes us all try to be better people, at least for a while? Who is this guy that we worship and try to please and curry favor with?
We tell stories about Him. We have television programs about Him - some that have been on since I was little. We have parties to celebrate His coming. The very thought of Him brings peace and goodwill among our friends and neighbors and co-workers.
Who is He? He is none other than the heaven-sent Savior—the Son of Man and the Son of God, Jesus the Babe of Bethlehem. He is Your groom and lover. He is the One who cares for you to give you the best and most—Himself in the crib and on the cross. He is more than just a guy; He is Your Lord and God returning to take you where you can’t go on your own. PAUSE.
A pastor tells a story about a car he saw one day while driving home. He’s sure it was the ugliest car he had ever seen. He said this car was not just ugly—it was ugly on top of ugly. If you looked up the word ugly in the dictionary, you’d find a picture of this car. It had a large gash on its side. One of the doors was held together with wires. Several body parts were quite rusted. He couldn’t tell the original color. Between the rust and multiple paint jobs, any one of several color options could have been the first coat. The most interesting thing about the car, though, was the bumper sticker. As if to be sure there would be no misunderstanding. It said: “This is not an abandoned car.”
A long time ago, a baby was born in a manger. He was and is the Savior of the entire world. He was a sign to us, a sign that tells us that this is not an abandoned world. You and I are not abandoned. Yes, we, Christians are not abandoned people. You know why? Because the Incarnate Son of God was nailed to the cross and shed His blood so that forgiveness, joy & peace was made possible through that sin-atoning sacrifice. We have the promise of forgiveness from our Lord and the promise that He will return. Jesus will be back. You can count on it. Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA.