Rorate Coeli OT Sermon 2012 Deuteronomy 18:15-19

Rorate Coeli Advent 4 OT Sermon
Deut 18:15-19
December 23, 2012 

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         So, how was everyone’s Friday? Ours was good. We went to the library and got out about a million books for next week and at night we went to the Electric Critters at the Zoo. We had a fun day. Not everyone did however. Especially those who believed those silly Mayans and bought into the belief that the Mayans predicted that the world was going to end. Boy, don’t they all look pretty ridiculous right now. But, no more ridiculous than those who have blindly followed end of the world predictions since, well, forever. 

         Since I was born in 1981 there have been roughly around 90 different people who have predicted the end of the world. 90 different predictions in 31 short years. That’s an average of three a year. Most don’t get news coverage because the people making the predictions aren’t famous and just a bunch of whack jobs. That’s a technical theological term. Some, like Pat Robertson, Harold Camping and Benny Hinn are well known individuals so the media picks up on their non-sense for ratings. This year those who wanted to see destruction and death blindly followed the Mayans lead. 

         False prophets are nothing new. They’ve been around since God’s prophets first spoke His Word. Moses, arguably the greatest of the OT prophets went and produced 10 plagues against the seers and diviners of Pharaoh. God used him to free Israel from slavery and to make a fool of Pharaoh’s prophets and the Egyptian gods in the process. 

         In Exodus 32, after freeing God’s people, Moses led them through the wilderness for a bit to Mount Sinai. He spoke with God face to face. He was given the 10 Commandments. The Law. This is a Law that shows what damned sinners we truly are. We don’t escape this damnation by ourselves. God was clear on this. But when Moses came down that mountain all aflutter after speaking with the Living God who would become incarnate many years later, his expression changes. He’s no longer the Moses who led the people and performed those miraculous and prophetic signs. Instead Moses is angry. 

         The Israelites in their sinful ingratitude for their God-won freedom from bondage forced Aaron to make a “god who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” 

         The false gods are made. The false prophets are pleased. A golden calf is erected for all to see.  The first commandment “You shall have no other gods” is broken joyfully and without remorse. Yet, Moses as the prophet intercedes for that sinful generation. And God holds back His anger. 

         In Exodus 34 Moses is back on the mountain getting another copy of the Law because it was destroyed. After Moses and God’s conversation that lasted 40 days and nights, his face shown with the light and glory of the one who was to come. His face shown like Jesus on the mount during the Transfiguration. Except Moses’ glory began to fade and fade showing the fallen creation that Moses was. 

         He was given the Law. That’s what Moses is known for. Law. All of the true prophets that followed have kept with the theme of Law. Repent from your evil ways. Repent from treating the poor like some form of sub-human slime. Repent from false worship to false idols. Repent from following false prophets. Follow God who gives all good gifts. As great as Moses was, and he was great, he was still a failure. Hard to hear, I know. But, it’s true. Moses was a failure. He couldn’t keep what he was commanded to give. 

         The Law that was given on that mountain terrifies and kills. It provides no comfort save comfort for the delusional that think they are keeping it without actually looking at their hearts. The Pharisees among us who like to point out the speck in others eyes while ignoring their own logs. The Law doesn’t make alive or console those that are broken. 

         But, Moses was right in at least on thing. He spoke as the prophet when he said “the Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers––it is to him you shall listen.”

         So who was the new prophet that Moses, as the great prophet of God, said would come? God sent many prophets after him to the Old Testament people. There were men like Samuel and Nathan, Elijah and Elisha, Isaiah and Jeremiah. There were Amos and Malachi. Yet these men were all failures like Moses before them. Even the last prophet of the Old Testament, John the Baptist was a failure. If these men were failures, then who wasn’t? 

         In Acts 3 Peter preaches at Solomon’s Portico. Peter ends this fantastic sermon with these words, “Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” (Acts 3:22-26) 

         Likewise in Acts 7 Saint Stephen, before he is stoned to death, says, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.  Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” (Acts 7:51-53) 

         This person that is the Prophet, the Righteous One, the Servant, is Jesus Christ, very God of very God. Peter says of Jesus, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” How true Peter speaks without even knowing it. 

         Jesus came as the Prophet that is like Moses, but different than him. Moses came to give Law, but Jesus came to give you something different. Jesus took those words of death and made them words of life. Jesus came to fulfill the Law for you. Jesus as the Greatest Prophet fulfills not just the great prophet Moses, but all of the prophets for you. 

         Jesus isn’t just some prophet from a long line of prophets. He is the Greatest Prophet of whom the Father says, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him!” Jesus comes “from among you, from the brothers,” as Moses put it. Jesus is true man from the Jewish people because “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). 

         No other prophet taught differently than Moses. No other prophet set up a new ministry that was pure Gospel death of the Law except Jesus. Every true prophet before Jesus taught Moses. Jesus, the Greatest Prophet, freed not only the Jews from the Law of Moses, but all people. Jesus freed you and gave you the new Word of the Gospel… Himself given and shed for the forgiveness of all of your sins. 

         John 1 says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” 

         Jesus the Greatest Prophet leads you by His grace and truth. Jesus takes you to the Promised Land, not with Laws and regulations. Instead, Jesus takes you there by His cross and resurrection. Jesus doesn’t give you manna and quail from heaven to sustain your trip. Rather, Jesus gives you His very body and blood.   

         Amen. 

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Gaudete OT Sermon 2012 Isaiah 40:1-8

Gaudete Sermon 2012
December 16, 2012
Isaiah 40:1-8 

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         For my money the sounds of nature while camping in the spring are some of the most beautiful sounds we can experience.  The fire crackles with wood that is still wet on the inside and sizzles as it pours out trying to escape as steam. The birds are each singing their unique and blissfully simple tunes for all to hear and enjoy. You may have a creek or river with water that is flowing fiercely nearby. The animals are coming awake after a long winter’s nap. 

         Like Superman had his Fortress of Solitude in the blistery cold of the Arctic, I had the various campgrounds in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and a few of the northern lakes in the Minnesota Boundary Waters that I used to go to with my Boy Scout Troop and occasionally with my family. During the hustle and the bustle of the school year I would look forward with anticipation to a monthly weekend trip, or weeklong trips in the summer. My friends and I would spend two or more Scout meetings in preparation. We had to decide who was going to bring what, what was going to be cooked and by whom and who got stuck with KP. 

         I loved the freedom we had to hike, fish, play cribbage and other cards games or just to sit and relax around the fire while enjoying the stars in their heavenly courses. The sounds of nature providing their comforting siren songs, knowing that everything was going to be alright when I got back home and to school again on Monday. 

         The wilderness was a great contrast to the sounds of life in the Chicago suburbs. The town had sounds of children playing and enjoying themselves. There were sounds of birds, but not as many as in the wilderness. There were also the sounds of cars speeding down the streets not acknowledging Stop signs and speed limits as more than suggestions. There were trains rolling by and planes making their descents to the town airport. 

         There were also the soul-destroying sounds of parents screaming profanities at their children. The sounds from a homeless man or woman begging for money outside of the liquor stores. The sounds of prostitutes looking for Johns. There were the joyous sounds of concert bands having concerts in the park and marching band putting on half-time shows. So it goes in the cities. So it goes in the suburbs. 

         Sounds are an important part of our lives. Some sounds remind us of good times gone past. Others remind us of pain and loss. But today … today I want you to consider the sounds of Advent. Let these sounds comfort you by entering your hearts through your ears. Let Isaiah echo all around you. As Simon and Garfunkel might sing, listen to the Sounds of Advent. 

         We begin with Sounds of Comfort. 

         “Comfort, comfort my people says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” 

         Isaiah prophesized these words to Jerusalem, that is to ‘her’ the bride of Christ, and also to you. The comfort is that your “warfare is ended and your iniquities are pardoned.” Sin that causes you to fear, doubt and despair before the face of the living God has been removed. Sin that is the source of so much pain in this world has been removed. Sins that cannot trust Jesus and His promises of peace have been removed. 

         The internal warfare that sin causes inside of you has been removed by the Gospel, by the sweet sound of Comfort that proceed from the mouth of Jesus when He says to you “Child take heart. I have taken on your warfare and your battling with sin into my very incarnate flesh for you. You no longer have to wage war for I have won the victory for you. You are forgiven.” 

         Just like Jerusalem who first heard these words a few hundred years before she fell in 586bc, we have to take Isaiah’s words from Jesus to His people of comfort by faith. Your forgiveness is taken by faith. Yet your daily experiences tell you otherwise. They tell you that this sweet sounding comfort hasn’t been experienced by you yet. You don’t have a destruction, captivity and return to validate the words of the prophet. 

         You have the forgiveness, and the promises that ancient Israel had. Your victory is won. Your troubles are over. You have received double forgiveness for the sins that you have committed in this life. The tree of death whose fruit is sin has been removed. The axe in Jesus’ hand has chopped it down and destroyed its roots. 

         You have received this comfort, in the words of the explanation of the Third Article of the Creed: “not by reason or senses.” Grace is wonderful. There isn’t a one-to-one correlation of Grace to sin, but double Grace for sins. This is pure mercy of God. Endless works and labor will not win this Grace for you. There is no merit needed. You are given double because of God’s Grace Alone. Jesus comes with hands and sides pierced by nails and spear and says, “Take eat,” “Take drink.” “Comfort, comfort my people. You are forgiven” 

         The second sound is the sound of anticipation. 

         “A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”” 

         All, or parts, of these words are in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to describe the last prophet before Jesus, His cousin, John the Baptist. John is the voice that prepares the way of the Lord… for the new message of the Gospel. 

         Martin Luther wrote in his lectures on Isaiah that: “The voice of one crying, that is, a new kind of teaching which should be proclaimed everywhere. In the wilderness. This voice is sent forth in the wilderness both by the preacher himself and by the hearers. By contrast wilderness is placed opposite the teaching of the Law. For like a jail, a wall, and a city, the Law secures and fences us in. The voice of the Gospel, however, is a free wilderness, open to all, public, and unrestrained like a wilderness. There is indeed a limitation about the Law, but the teaching of the Gospel is most free and most unrestrained. Hence all these words are as by contrast set against the teaching of the Law. The voice of one crying in the wilderness. This voice of the Gospel takes the place of the whispering murmur, which teaches the Law in specified localities. This voice, however, has no definite place and teacher. Moses whispers, but the Gospel shouts confidently and most vigorously (p 8). 

         In summary, Luther is saying that the Gospel is where freedom is. The Law cages you in. It puts boundaries and barriers upon you that control, limit and eventually destroy your faith. The Gospel is free. There is no boundary to it. You cannot stop it because Jesus and His voice of forgiveness in His death echo everywhere. They are for everyone.

         It is the Gospel, the sounds of forgiveness in the incarnation that we anticipate celebrating on Christmas morning. This is when we remember that Jesus, God of God from eternity, took on flesh to lower the mountains and raise the valleys in His ministry so that all may be saved. The mountains are those who are puffed up with pride, arrogance and feelings of self-salvation like the Pharisee. The valleys are the beggars, the sinners, and the publicans, who stand before God in all their sinful glory knowing that they cannot save themselves. All are made equal before Jesus who dies so that all may live. 

         The third and final sound we see in Isaiah today is the sound of the Eternal Word.

         “A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

          When I was a boy and would camp in the wilderness the sounds of the city would fade away. So too will the sounds of the world. The world preaches death and only death. You get pregnant and don’t want the child? Answer of the world: death to the child. You get old, feeble and don’t contribute enough financially to society and get sick? The answer: death. The rationale is that its cheaper than paying for medication. Have a poor quality of life, whatever that means? The answer: death. Death is all that the world knows and it shouts this sound of despair at the top of its lungs for all to hear.

         To some extent the world is correct. Since the fall, all flesh is like grass. Eventually we all will fade and wither, but in Christ we will never die. Jesus made sure of that on the cross. When Jesus died upon that tree of death He made it a new tree of life that whoever eats its fruit shall live. When Jesus rose He defeated death ensuring that those who pass from this vale of tears, pass through death as if like a dream, to awaken with Jesus in paradise of His making. This is Jesus’ promise to you when He baptized you in His blood that was spilt upon that new tree freeing you from the bondage of the city of Law and putting you in the wilderness of the Gospel. 

         Contrasted with our limited time upon this earth is the Word of God that you hear spoken into your ears that will stand forever. This Word reveals Jesus because Jesus is the Word made flesh. The Word of Jesus that says, “you are forgiven” silences all others.   

         In conclusion, there are so many sounds that surround us on a daily basis. There are so many sounds that disturb us as well as delight us. But in the midst of them all are the sounds of Advent. The voice of Jesus has spoken tender words of comfort, words of anticipation, and words of everlasting life. Absorb the sounds of Advent and live them out! Amen.

Populus Zion OT Sermon 2012

 

Populus Zion Sermon 2012
Malachi 4:1-6
December 9, 2012

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There is a theme in the collects we pray during the Season of Advent. Last week we prayed that God would “stir up His power”. Today we just prayed that God would “stir up our hearts”. In two weeks we will pray that God will “stir up His power” again. This is because during Advent we are reminded that we don’t have a complacent God. We don’t have a God who is content with the status quo of how the world is being  destroyed by its Prince of Darkness. We don’t have a God that accepts sin as a reality that has not been brutally and bloodily destroyed on the battlefield of the cross.

Rather, we have a God who has battled and who has defeated sin in all of its seemingly great glory. We have a God who came into the world 2000 years ago as a single cell that multiplied and grew in His mother’s womb just like you did. We have a God who foolishly suffered for us to save us from the destructive joy that have when we sin by thinking that we can free ourselves from our bondage to the old evil foe. We have a God who comes to us still today in His Word and Sacraments because He doesn’t want any soul to be lost forever in that bondage to sin, death and the devil. We have a God who will come again in glory to bring forth righteous judgment on believer and unbeliever alike. Our God is not complacent. Far from it actually.

So this morning we read from Malachi whose name means “my messenger.” Malachi was the last prophet for about 430 years, give or take a few years, before John the Baptist came preparing the way for Jesus. Like many prophets before him, Malachi was sent to stir up the people whose faith had become, to put the best construction upon it, complacent. In truth their faithful living and worship had become a joke once again. The Babylonian captivity was over and the temple was restored and the walls rebuilt. You think that their parents and grandparents would have told them about the captivity. You would think that this would have been mentioned in the Rabbi’s teachings, “don’t become the lazy faithful thinking that because you’re God’s people, God won’t punish you for your sins. Remember the captivity!”

Given enough time, just a few decades in the case of God’s people; laziness and self-reliance will win out. Gone were the messages of fear, dread and hope that is found in the midst of sorrow that were prophesied and preached after the captivity and the people’s return from exile. So God sent Malachi, the last messenger with a message to stir up the people to repentance, faith and confidence in God’s love and forgiveness.

Just like in Jeremiah 23, Malachi tells us this morning, “Behold, the day is coming”. Jeremiah meant the coming of the incarnation of Jesus. Malachi does not. Instead Malachi is talking about the day of judgment. “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.”

In Matthew 24 Jesus mentions that before this happens we’ll have wars and rumors of wars. Nations will rise against nations. We’ll have famines and earthquakes. We see and hear all these and other worse atrocities on a daily basis. On the worst of days we might pray the oldest prayer of the Church, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” But not always.

Rather we live day to day. Sure, evil’s in the world, but we’ve become rather desensitized to it, unless it happens in our own backyards that is. Evil seems to reign supreme without consequence  or punishment. You go about your daily business without a load of care unless the evil happens to you or someone you know personally. When it does, you forget how powerful and mighty God truly is because He seems so impotent by not stopping evil from happening to those whom you love so dearly.

During this time of year, you get busy trying to get through life without evil and worry that you forget about eternity. You forget about the righteousness that is yours in Christ. You can easily forget the real reason for the things that you are busy planning… the incarnation of God and His birth in a dirty, smelly, manger. A beautiful and humble birth that leads to a grotesque and humiliating death on a cross.

You forget the reason we gather on Sunday is because Jesus is the Sun of Righteousness that Malachi talks about. Jesus is the Sun that rises bright and glorious at the start of the new week… the new day… the eighth day when creation is made anew in the resurrection from the Tomb on Easter.

Malachi was sent by God to deliver a message of how great and quick the day of judgment would be. All will be reduced to stubble by a great fire. Nothing will be saved from the fire’s path of destruction.

Malachi, like John the Baptist, whom Malachi calls “Elijah the prophet” is sent to bring the people to repentance. His job is to bring people back to the Lord of Hosts, back to Jesus who has “healing in His wings”. You received that healing that only Jesus can give. Your sins are forgiven. Your death sentence has been removed and taken on by Jesus who burst a hole in the side of death so you may live.

When Malachi called Jesus the “Sun of Righteousness,” he was signifying two different comings of Jesus. In Jesus first coming, He was the great light for man. Or as John 1:4-5 puts it, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” The second coming of Jesus is like the new day that we are anxiously awaiting during this long cold night. Jesus is the rising of the sun that will awake all, the living and the dead.

During Advent we have the wreath and the extra light that it provides. This wreath points us to Christmas Day, when we joyfully remember and praise God for Christ’s coming as a light into this world darkened by sin. At the end of the Christmas Eve service we will dim the lights and each be holding our own lit candles in this sanctuary as we reflectively sing Silent Night. Each of you holding a light that serves as a tangible reminder to you that Christ came into the world not for a thousand million people, but for you to save you and to rescue you from sin, death and devil.

The next time we darken the sanctuary during a service will be Good Friday when you reflect on the price Jesus willingly paid for you. What it cost Jesus to save you and how He freely did this without any merit or worthiness in you. You can’t buy what God has freely given you… life, salvation, forgiveness of sins an eternity in heaven with the rays of the Sun of Righteousness shining down upon you and warming you from His throne.

This day of judgement is coming soon. This day of swift and eternal terror for unbelievers who have rejected God’s love in Jesus. It is also the day of eternal rejoicing for those who anxiously await to be with their Lord. Their hope will be fulfilled at last and for all eternity.

Until then the Lord’s Supper bridges the time between Jesus’ time on earth and His second coming in glory that we so anxiously await. When you come up here this morning and kneel before His table you enter timelessness. Time and eternity meet and paradoxically become one. You are both between and present at the Last Supper on earth and the eternal supper in paradise.

Like Israel you eat with sandals on and bags packed. You eat like they ate the first Passover meal in Egypt; locked, stocked and ready to rock into the night at a moment’s notice. And you eat and drink food prepared by God in the Holy Sacrament and your faith and hope are strengthened in your earthly journey until Jesus comes again. You are given the strength to proclaim with all the saints in the prayer of hope: “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”

Amen.

Orthodox Lutheran Quote of the Day

gargantua

 

Just like a person, when he is about to die, at times still takes a hungry bit, as it also generally occurs: the older, the more scanty––and, the closer a person is to the end of his life, the more a person seeks to store up supplies for this life––so also it will happen at the end of the world, that the people will be preoccupied with the capacity to gobble up food and get drunk and worry about nourishment. The Lord Christ knows this; that’s why He very faithfully warns His true disciples about not treading along this broad, wide path.

The reason why Christ especially warns about these sins is because many others spring forth from these sins. Wherever there exists gluttonous eating, drunkenness, and worry about nourishment, inordinate manners result: unrighteousness, quarrelsome strife, greed, shameful words, and the like. Consequently, the Lord Christ herewith wants to plug up the well-spring (source) of these behaviors.

Johann Gerhard
Postilla
Second Sunday of Advent 
trans. Rev. Dr. Elmer M. Hohle

Ad Te Levavi OT Sermon 2012

Ad Te Levavi OT Sermon 2012
Jeremiah 23:5-8
December 2, 2012

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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.”

Amen.

Orthodox Lutheran Father Quote of the Day

Matthew 21:1-9 

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,“Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
    humble, and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting,“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

 

         In the first book of Kings in the first chapter is described the installation and the royal entry of Solomon. With him, at the royal decree of his father David, things were conducted in this way: He was set on the king’s mule, he was anointed with sacred oil by the Priest Zadock, the prophet Nathan, and be Erethi and Plethi; that is, he was led away by the bodyguard of King David to Gihon, preceded by trumpet blasts and cheered by men: “Success to King Solomon. Also, the people followed after him, publicly proclaiming their joy with pipes and shouting so that the earth shook from all the shouting.

         In this story, Solomon is a prototype of the Lord Christ, the heavenly Solomon, Mat 12:42, for the word “Solomon” means a peace-prince; now, however, Christ is the true Prince of Peace, Isa. 9:6. Accordingly, as Solomon was anointed king with the sacred oil, so Christ was anointed as our eternal King with the oil of joy, the Holy Spirit, Psa. 45:8. Just as Solomon also prepared himself at Gihon (which was a beautiful, bubbling spring at Jerusalem) for his royal entrance from there into the city, so also Christ, in order to fulfill this prototype and especially to fulfill the prophecy of Zec. 9:9, conducted His royal entry into Jerusalem. Solomon was set upon the king’s mule, and at his coronation everything was carried out with pomp and glory, because his kingdom was an earthly, worldly kingdom. However, Christ wanted to carry out His royal entry upon a donkey, which does not have a special regard before the world, for His kingdom is not of this world, John 18:36. At the entry of Solomon, one heard fifes and trumpets, all the people rejoiced and shouted out to Him: “Success to King Solomon”; thus the evangelists announced that the Lord Christ was welcomed by the people at Jerusalem with great jubilation, and he was shouted at with [the words of] Psa. 118:26: “Hosanna to the Son of David, praise to Him who comes in the Name of the Lord.” At the installation of Solomon were found those who enviously begrudged him, such as Joab, Abathar, and others who wanted Adonai for their king; but yet Solomon’s reign was established and upheld. Thus it similarly aggravated the Pharisees that Christ conducted His entry with such rejoicing and jubilation: they wanted a different King and Messiah, but contrary to all their plots, Christ’s kingdom was established, has been maintained to this very hour, [and] will also be established eternally.

Johann Gerhard
Postilla
First Sunday of Advent 
trans. Rev. Dr. Elmer M. Hohle

Merry Slaps-mas

Slappy holiday

Why not take the Santa Claus tradition a little further? | Gene Edward Veith

Santa Claus had his origins in St. Nicholas, the fourth-century bishop of Myra in present-day Turkey. Known for his generosity and his love of children, Nicholas is said to have saved a poor family’s daughters from slavery by tossing into their window enough gold for a rich dowry, a present that landed in some shoes or, in some accounts, stockings that were hung up to dry. Thus arose the custom of hanging up stockings for St. Nicholas to fill. And somehow he transmogrified into Santa Claus, who has become for many people the secular Christmas alternative to Jesus Christ.

But there is more to the story of Nicholas of Myra. He was also a delegate to the Council of Nicea in a.d. 325, which battled the heretics who denied the deity of Christ. He was thus one of the authors of the Nicene Creed, which affirms that Jesus Christ is both true God and true man. And unlike his later manifestation, Nicholas was particularly zealous in standing up for Christ.

During the Council of Nicea, jolly old St. Nicholas got so fed up with Arius, who taught that Jesus was just a man, that he walked up and slapped him! That unbishoplike behavior got him in trouble. The council almost stripped him of his office, but Nicholas said he was sorry, so he was forgiven.

The point is, the original Santa Claus was someone who flew off the handle when he heard someone minimizing Christ. Perhaps we can battle our culture’s increasingly Christ-less Christmas by enlisting Santa in his original cause. The poor girls’ stockings have become part of our Christmas imagery. So should the St. Nicholas slap.

Not a violent hit of the kind that got the good bishop in trouble, just a gentle, admonitory tap on the cheek. This should be reserved not for out-and-out nonbelievers, but for heretics (that is, people in the church who deny its teachings), Christians who forget about Jesus, and people who try to take Christ out of Christmas.

This will take a little tweaking of the mythology. Santa and his elves live at the North Pole where they compile a list of who is naughty, who is nice, and who is Nicean. On Christmas Eve, flying reindeer pull his sleigh full of gifts. And after he comes down the chimney, he will steal into the rooms of people dreaming of sugarplums who think they can do without Christ and slap them awake.

And we’ll need new songs and TV specials (“Santa Claus Is Coming to Slap,” “Deck the Apollinarian with Bats of Holly,” “Frosty the Gnostic,” “How the Arian Stole Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red Knows Jesus”).

Department store Santas should ask the children on their laps if they have been good, what they want for Christmas, and whether they understand the Two Natures of Christ. The Santas should also roam the shopping aisles, and if they hear any clerks wish their customers a mere “Happy Holiday,” give them a slap.

This addition to his job description will keep Santa busy. Teachers who forbid the singing of religious Christmas carols—SLAP! Office managers who erect Holiday Trees—SLAP! Judges who outlaw manger displays—SLAP! People who give The Da Vinci Code as a Christmas present—SLAP! Ministers who cancel Sunday church services that fall on Christmas day—SLAP! SLAP!

Perhaps Santa Claus in his original role as a theological enforcer may not go over very well in our contemporary culture. People may then try to take both Christ and Santa Claus out of Christmas. And with that economic heresy, the retailers would start to do the slapping.