Immanuel Lutheran Church

Sermon

Advent 1

"Walking in the Light of Christ"

Romans 13:11-14

November 27, 2016

We have been blessed with a mild fall and a bountiful harvest. Although we have had no snow, winter will come. Now that Thanksgiving is past we're thinking about Christmas. If you hear the cry go out, "he's coming, he's coming," who first comes to mind? A) Santa or B) Jesus. More than likely your answer would be A) Santa. Let's face it, this time of year more people are concerned about the arrival of Santa than they are about the coming of Jesus. This shouldn't surprise anyone. After all, Santa brings stuff.

Today the paraments are the traditional purple of Advent. This is our time to prepare for Christmas but not in the American cultural sense. For Christians, this is meant to be a spiritual time of meditation and prayer. Advent and Lent have common themes for both anticipate a great miracle of God.

The miracle of Christmas is the Incarnation. In the deep mystery of God's plan of salvation, He gives us His Son. The Child worshiped by the shepherds in the stable is God Himself. How could this be? Is it possible for the omnipotent Lord of all creation to be a weak, helpless baby? The answer is yes. This is the Good News heralded by the angels. It is reflected in our Advent theme: From heaven above to the ends of the earth.

Even as we anticipate the celebration of the Savior's birth, our society has turned this season of meditation into a time of greed and materialism. Thanksgiving has degenerated into a long weekend of gluttony and drunkenness. Black Friday shoppers turned violent in their quest of merchandise and deals. Is this how we are to prepare for the celebration of the birth of the Savior? Paul lived in times that were similar to ours. His words to the Christians living in Rome are applicable to us as well.

Romans 13:11-14. Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore, let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

There's nothing new under the sun. Since the fall into sin, our base human nature has preferred the seamy side of life. Darkness covers all kinds of misbehavior. As Christians, we are called to walk in the light. We are encouraged to put aside pettiness, jealousy and fighting over the inconsequential things of life. We are told to get a grip and focus on the important things in life.

This is how Advent runs counter to the usual preparations for Christmas. Rather than partying, getting stressed out with lists, shopping and worrying about meeting the expectations of others, we are directed to making time for the quiet. After all, the angels did not make their joyous announcement to the busy, bustling city of Jerusalem. They came to the shepherds in the deep quiet of night. The silence of the that pastoral night was broken by the choirs of angels singing "Gloria in Excelsis Deo."

Now, is the time of preparation. Now is the day of salvation. The moment is all you have. Tomorrow is assumed but not promised. This isn't to say that we shouldn't prepare for Christmas with shopping and baking. It's a matter of prioritizing. Jesus is the reason for the season. We are reminded not to let this be overshadowed and buried with all the other things associated with Christmas.

Advent preparation, like Lent, is a time to watch and pray. We prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus. Of course, the cynic may hear these words and note that nearly 2000 years have passed without the return of the Lord. Were those early Christians deceiving themselves by listening to Paul? Are we doing the same thing? We need to remember that God is above time. Peter explained our period of waiting this way.

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. [2 Peter 3:8, 9]

When we anticipate something will happen immediately, we do a countdown. On a new year's eve people countdown the remaining seconds of the year as the ball drops in Times' Square. In years past, the control tower would countdown the seconds before the rocket with astronauts on board blasted into space. Seniors countdown the days before they

graduate. We are used to counting down the seconds and the days.

Advent is our countdown to Christmas. Some of you use Advent calendars to countdown the days to Christmas. It's a that time of excited anticipation. It is our custom to put out the Advent wreath. Each Sunday another candle is lit in anticipation for Christmas. Each week builds on the other with the message that Christ is coming.

The candles of Advent speak to our spiritual preparation by pointing us to hope, peace, joy and love. Advent directs us to take stock of our spiritual life and those things that are truly important.

What are these important things? The most important is your faith in the Lord. The devil, the world and our sinful natures seek to shift our focus from Jesus to the glitter of the world. Now is the time to reflect on the love of Christ that beings you peace and joy.

The second is your relationship with the people the Lord has placed in your life, your family and friends. Now is the time for the peace of Christ to bring you the assurance of reconciliation to the Father. This is the season we use to seek reconciliation (make friends again) with others.

We are called out of spiritual darkness to live in His marvelous Light. With God's help, we will clear the clutter to prepare a place in our hearts to receive the light, hope and love of Christ. As we approach the celebration of Christmas and live in anticipation of the resurrection, we pray that the Lord will help us to be properly prepared to receive Him now and forever.

He's coming! He's coming! Who is coming? Jesus is coming! Rejoice and be glad in Him. Amen.


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February
02/28/2016
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January
01/31/2016
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December
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November
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October
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July
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June
06/28/2015
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May
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April
04/19/2015
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04/05/2015
March
03/29/2015
03/22/2015
03/15/2015
03/08/2015
February
02/15/2015
02/15/2015
02/08/2015
02/01/2015
January
01/25/2015
01/25/2015
01/18/2015
01/11/2015
01/04/2015

December
12/28/2014
12/21/2014
12/14/2014
12/07/2014
November
11/23/2014
11/16/2014
11/09/2014
11/02/2014
October
10/12/2014
10/05/2014
September
09/28/2014
09/21/2014
09/14/2014
09/07/2014
August
08/31/2014
08/24/2014
08/17/2014
08/10/2014
08/03/2014
July
07/27/2014
07/20/2014
07/13/2014
07/06/2014
June
06/29/2014
06/22/2014
06/15/2014
06/08/2014
06/01/2014
May
05/11/2014
April
04/27/2014
04/20/2014
04/13/2014
04/06/2014
March
03/30/2014
03/23/2014
03/16/2014
03/02/2014
February
02/02/2014
January
01/26/2014
01/19/2014
01/12/2014
01/05/2014