“Advent: Receiving the Coming King” (Luke 19:28-40)

First Sunday in Advent
December 2, 2018

“Advent: Receiving the Coming King” (Luke 19:28-40)

Well, it’s Advent. And you know what that means: We’re beginning the countdown to Christmas. Of course, the world has already been celebrating their Christmas for several weeks now, what with Hallmark Christmas movies, and Christmas TV specials and commercials, and radio stations playing songs about “Santa Baby” and “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” But that’s the world’s Christmas. In the church, though, we get to celebrate the real thing, the true Christmas. And Advent, which begins today, serves as the lead-up to it.

But that’s not all Advent does. Oh, we will be getting ready for Christmas. Our midweek services start this Wednesday, under the theme, “What Child Is This?” And after the service we’ll put up the tree here in church. The Ladies’ Guild is having their Christmas party on Thursday. And later this Advent we’ll be singing hymns like “Savior of the Nations, Come” and “Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel.”

So Advent is the lead-up to Christmas. But it’s a lot more than that, too. It’s about how we prepare ourselves for Christ’s coming. It’s about how we welcome him as he comes to us. As we just sang, “O Lord, how shall I meet you, how welcome you aright?” And it’s about the various ways and times our Lord does come to us, then and now and still to come.

The thread that connects all these themes is summed up in the word “Advent” itself. For “Advent” simply means “Coming.” This season is all about Christ coming to us and how we respond to that. Thus our message this morning: “Advent: Receiving the Coming King.”

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Published in: on December 1, 2018 at 10:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Gabriel’s Gracious Greeting” (Luke 1:26-38)

Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 24, 2017

“Gabriel’s Gracious Greeting” (Luke 1:26-38)

Every year on the Fourth Sunday in Advent, the Holy Gospel is a reading about Mary. Last year it was the message to Joseph that Mary would bear a son. Next year it will be Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth. This year it is the Annunciation to Mary that she will conceive in her womb and bear a son. So each year on this Sunday there’s something about Mary becoming the mother of our Lord, which is most fitting on the Sunday closest to Christmas.

As I say, our text today is the Annunciation, the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the virgin Mary. Gabriel comes to Mary and says to her, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But then Mary’s reaction is a bit puzzling. It says, “She was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.” Well, that’s our question, too. What sort of greeting is this? And what sort of meaning does it have for us? That’s what we’ll find out now, as we consider “Gabriel’s Gracious Greeting.”

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Published in: on December 23, 2017 at 10:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“He Will Surely Do It” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24)

Midweek Advent Evening Prayer
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

“He Will Surely Do It” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24)

This has been an Advent series about the Second Advent, the Second Coming of Christ. Each Wednesday we’ve looked at the Epistle reading from the previous Sunday, and the connecting theme that runs through all of them is the idea of “Waiting for the Day of the Lord.” We began two weeks ago by unpacking the biblical teaching about the day of the Lord, that it is “A Day of Judgment and Salvation.” Last week we saw that when the Day of the Lord finally comes, God will bring about “New Heavens and a New Earth.” Now today we close out this series on waiting for the day of the Lord by looking at how God will sanctify us as we wait and keep us blameless at Christ’s coming. Yes, God is faithful, and “He Will Surely Do It.”

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Published in: on December 20, 2017 at 9:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“When the Messiah Gives You a Makeover” (Isaiah 61:1-4, 10-11)

Third Sunday in Advent
December 17, 2017

“When the Messiah Gives You a Makeover” (Isaiah 61:1-4, 10-11)

Have you ever seen one of those makeover shows on TV? My daughter used to watch one. It was called “What Not to Wear.” The idea of the show was that they would select a woman whose wardrobe and appearance wasn’t that great. Then they would help her pick out some new clothes that would look better on her. They would give her a nice haircut and do up her makeup. So this woman, who at the start of the program was looking all drab and dowdy, by the end of the program was looking like a million bucks. And she would be absolutely delighted with the results. The makeover had made a big difference.

Well, today I want to tell you about an even better makeover. And the good news is, it’s for you. It’s for all of us. And it’s free of charge. This makeover will make the biggest difference in your life, and you will be absolutely delighted with the results. What I want to tell you about now is “When the Messiah Gives You a Makeover.”

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Published in: on December 16, 2017 at 3:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“New Heavens and a New Earth” (2 Peter 3:8-14)

Midweek Advent Evening Prayer
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

“New Heavens and a New Earth” (2 Peter 3:8-14)

This year’s theme for our Advent midweek services is “Waiting for the Day of the Lord.” We’re looking at the Epistle readings for the first three weeks of Advent, all of which are about looking forward to the second coming of Christ and, in view of that, how to live now while we’re waiting for that day.

Last week we began by looking at the biblical background of the term, “The Day of the Lord.” We saw it as a day of both judgment and salvation–judgment for the unbelieving world, but salvation for us as the redeemed people of God. We took comfort in God’s promise that he will sustain us to the end, “guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Today we continue to explore what it means to be waiting for the day of the Lord. Our text this week is from 2 Peter 3, where St. Peter alerts us to be ready for that day. Peter’s message to us tonight is threefold: First, while there may seem to be a delay in Christ’s return, don’t think that God has forgotten his promise to bring it to pass, and so don’t be caught unawares when it finally does come, for it will come like a thief in the night. Second, Peter tells us what will happen to this evil world on that day, and he points us to the new creation that God will then bring about: “New Heavens and a New Earth.” Third, Peter exhorts us to live as God’s holy people even now, since that is who we are in Christ, and those new heavens and new earth we’re waiting for will be a place “in which righteousness dwells.” Let’s take these three points now one at a time.

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Published in: on December 14, 2017 at 7:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Baptism of Repentance for the Forgiveness of Sins” (Mark 1:1-8)

Second Sunday in Advent
December 10, 2017

“A Baptism of Repentance for the Forgiveness of Sins” (Mark 1:1-8)

Well, here comes John the Baptist again. He always shows up around this time of year. Always with kind of a depressing message: “Repent! Get your life straightened out!” John the Baptist is like the Denny Downer of December. Everybody else is having a good time getting ready for Christmas–going shopping, listening to Christmas music, watching specials on TV, having Christmas parties–and here comes John, telling us to repent. John, is that any way to get ready for Christmas?

I mean, listen to this part of our text today from Mark 1: “John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.”

A baptism of repentance. People confessing their sins. Kind of dreary, isn’t it? Not too cheery. But oh, wait! This was John’s baptism, right? Yeah, John’s baptism doesn’t apply to us, does it? So I guess we can go on and skip over this repentance stuff.

Hold on, not so fast. Yeah, John’s baptism was not exactly the same as our baptism. His was preparatory, provisional, for a limited time only. But is it totally irrelevant to us? I mean the repentance stuff. I don’t think so. Let’s find out more now, as we consider “A Baptism of Repentance for the Forgiveness of Sins.”

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Published in: on December 10, 2017 at 12:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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“A Day of Judgment and Salvation” (1 Corinthians 1:3-9)

Midweek Advent Evening Prayer
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

“A Day of Judgment and Salvation” (1 Corinthians 1:3-9)

In thinking about a theme for our three midweek Advent services this year, I decided to go with the Epistle readings for the first three Sundays in Advent. For there is a common theme that you can see in all three. There is a phrase, a connecting thread, that runs through these readings. See if you can notice what it is.

First, from the Epistle for the First Sunday in Advent, 1 Corinthians 1, the part where it says: “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.”

Then from the Epistle for the Second Sunday in Advent, from 2 Peter 3, phrases like these: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. . . . waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God. . . . we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth. . . .”

And from the Third Sunday in Advent, 1 Thessalonians 5: “may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Did you catch it? What is the thread running through these lessons? It is “the day of the Lord,” the coming and revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, his second coming, and how we are to wait for that day. Thus our theme for this Advent series: “Waiting for the Day of the Lord.”

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Published in: on December 6, 2017 at 9:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Oh That You Would Rend the Heavens and Come Down” (Isaiah 64:1-9)

First Sunday in Advent
December 3, 2017

“Oh That You Would Rend the Heavens and Come Down” (Isaiah 64:1-9)

The Old Testament Reading for today, from Isaiah 64, is an intense prayer. The prophet is begging God to intervene on behalf of his people. As such, it is a fitting prayer also for God’s New Testament people, the church. And so, on this First Sunday in Advent, as we enter this season of waiting for the Lord’s coming, we cry out with Isaiah, “Oh That You Would Rend the Heavens and Come Down.”

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Published in: on December 3, 2017 at 12:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Isaiah’s Immanuel Prophecy” (Isaiah 7:10-17)

Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 18, 2016

“Isaiah’s Immanuel Prophecy” (Isaiah 7:10-17)

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

There’s that word “Emmanuel.” And we sing that hymn every Advent. But what’s it mean? Who is this “Emmanuel”? Why are we praying to Emmanuel to “come and ransom captive Israel”? And this “mourning in lonely exile” business–what’s that all about? Today we’ll find out, and we’ll find out how it applies to us, as we listen to “Isaiah’s Immanuel Prophecy.”

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Published in: on December 17, 2016 at 5:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“He Comes, We Come” (Isaiah 35:1-10)

Midweek Advent Vespers
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

“He Comes, We Come” (Isaiah 35:1-10)

“You go, we go.” That’s what the Chicago Cubs told their centerfielder and leadoff man Dexter Fowler the last couple of years. “You go, we go.” In other words, “As you go, Dexter, so we will go. You are the guy who makes this team go. When you get on base and play well, our team will do well.” And that is what happened. Fowler played very well, and the Cubs won the World Series. “You go, we go.” And now that Dexter Fowler has signed with St. Louis, the Cardinals are hoping for the same result.

“You go, we go.” Today I want to modify that saying a bit to reflect our reading from Isaiah 35. And what I’ll change it to is this: “He Comes, We Come.” He comes, we come. And the result will be something far greater than even a World Series championship.

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Published in: on December 14, 2016 at 8:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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