Ad Te Levavi OT Sermon 2012
December 2, 2012
The world could not care any less about Advent. It’s foolish, a burden and time consuming to prepare for Christ’s coming. Who has time for that anyways? We’ve got Powerball to play, presents to wrap, food to bake, family to visit and those beautiful carols to sing. Advent gets lost and no one cares.
Advent gets relegated to a space of time between the big three holidays. The first is Thanksgiving where we eat our fill, get in lines at stores at ungodly hours to buy things we don’t need at prices we just can’t possibly pass up. The next is Christmas where we gather with those we love to give gifts and remember our Lord’s incarnation. Finally, there’s New Year’s Day when we nurse hangovers from the night before while watching The Rose Bowl Parade and game.
Advent is just foolish to the world. Time set aside to prepare for the Lord’s incarnation at Christmas, His coming at His Supper and His coming again in Glory. After all, the world wants Advent to be done away with. Stores start selling Christmas decor and having “Christmas Sales” before Halloween.
Why I saw a comic strip in October that had two characters playing with a manger. Then one brings in some zombie action figures. The first one complains. The second one said, “if they don’t want zombies with Jesus in the manger then they shouldn’t sell Christmas stuff during Halloween.”
If it was up to the world, the time between Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s would be minimal and filled with debauchery, drunkenness, and gluttony. But the world has to wait. Advent just won’t go away. Preparation for Jesus’ coming is here to stay, despite the world’s complaints.
The reason why the world doesn’t like Advent is because it doesn’t like the incarnation, God taking on human flesh to be our righteousness. Or as Jeremiah puts it, ” “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
The world, and even our own flesh wants a great warrior king like David. We want a Jesus who enters Jerusalem on a white steed with armor, shield and sword glowing with the brightness of the sun for all to see. We want a Jesus who kicks butt and take names. We want a Jesus who rises above everyone else like Saul and looks like a king. We want a Jesus who fights with passion and purpose to free His people to free them from their bondage and to fight for them like St. George who battled the Dragon.
We get a Jesus riding on a donkey instead. A Jesus compared to a righteous growth from the line of David that was nothing but a stump of what it used to be. Instead of a king that comes with power to raise an army and fight, that uses power to demonstrate His greatness, we have a Jesus born in a filthy manger surrounded by animals and their refuse to a virgin whom shepherds visit. Instead of a king wearing armor and living in a giant palace, we have Jesus wearing everyday clothes and living like a peasant who has no home.
We don’t have a puppet king like Mattanyahu. Mattanyahu was put on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar. Mattanyahu changed his name at his coronation to Zedekiah, or “my righteousness” as a way to fulfill what Jeremiah says this morning. He was trying to force God’s hand by saying, I’m the king that will save my people and they will “dwell securely” because of me. He was a descendent of David after all, so why couldn’t it be him?
Zedekiah tried to hold God at gunpoint and force His hand. Instead, God uses Nebuchadnezzar to finish conquering Jerusalem and while Zedekiah tried fleeing like a rat, he was hunted down. His sons were killed before him. His eyes were removed. Finally, he was taken into captivity in Babylon where he spent the rest of his days.
You have a Jesus who is the fulfillment of this prophecy of Jeremiah. Jesus riding victorious on a donkey who trots on palm branches as the evening sacrifice by the temple gate instead of the main city gate where kings entered. Jesus who comes to deliver you from the vicious showings of power that you want Him to do by dying to remove the Father’s wrath against you. Jesus who suffers and dies at the hands of sinful men so you can call Him, “YHWH Tsidhkenu,” or “The Lord is our Righteousness.”
Jesus does this by riding into each of your hearts individually. He knows your background. He knows the problems that you face on a daily basis. Every hair on your head is numbered. He even crocheted you in your mother’s womb. It is into your heart that Jesus rides and this Righteousness Branch becomes manifest and grows the fruit of faith.
This righteous branch would come to liberate Israel and Judah and has come for you to free you from your bondage to sin. Our Righteous Branch shepherds us into His Kingdom of peace and righteousness. The results of this are not always as clear as we want them to be in this life. When Jesus, our Righteous Branch comes again they will be made clear like a fog lifting to reveal a beautiful day. Here you are sustained by the provisions of our Good Shepherd, who provides you with life and salvation.
In Baptism you are washed and regenerated and renewed by the Holy Ghost. You don’t need to hold God at gunpoint to get it. You don’t need to bribe Him to save you. He already has and He reigns over you now as victorious.
So, like the season of Advent, you wait and prepare. You wait for Jesus’ second coming when He creates the new earth on the last day. Until then, you have an appetizer, an amuse bouche if you will, of the great heavenly feast that awaits you in the Sacrament of the Altar, where Jesus is at the same time, as Luther so aptly put it, “chef, cook, butler, host and food.”
In His Supper, Jesus comes to you with His Body in the Bread, and with His Blood, in the Cup for the forgiveness won for you on the cross of Calvary when He became your righteousness.
What may bother some is the waiting and the preparation for the things that are not yet seen or that are left “unfinished” by Jesus. You’re still here. You’re still breathing and sinning. He hasn’t come back yet. Come quickly Lord, Jesus, we pray.
This is why the Lectionary is so great. We read last week the parable of the 10 virgins that remind us of waiting and today we get a foretaste of what that waiting brings in Christ’s triumphant entry. Just like the virgins from last week, our night is far spent. Salvation is nearer and nearer than we came to believe. We pray that by Jesus’ power we will be rescued from the threatening perils of sin by His deliverance on the cross. So we patiently and expectantly watch for Jesus’ Second Coming.
Jesus’ first arrival is complete. He continues to arrive over and over again in His meal for you to make you grow from His Righteous Branch. Jesus in John 15 explains this better than I ever could. He is the Vine and you are grafted onto Him. Apart from Jesus you have no life, only with the Vine do you receive the nourishment that you need for body and life and the ability to say, “The Lord is our Righteousness.”