“Bookends and Everything in Between”

The First Sunday in Advent (C)
“Bookends and Everything in Between”
December 2, 2018

Sermon Text: Luke 19:28-40

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from our Advent King, Christ Jesus.  Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

Interesting isn’t it? To be at the beginning, and likewise see the end. To stand at the “starting line” but also have the “finish line” in clear view… plain view.

And this, having to do with our Lord’s saving mission here on earth. With a new Church Year… with the beginning of the Advent Season, we are at the start of it all.

As such, for you, me and all of Christendom, it is about the incredibly imperative preparation underway then and now for receiving the long-awaited Christ… the long-awaited Messiah… the Blessed Savior that God promised to send to our first parents covered in sin and, in turn, all who would come after them, including you and me.

Be aware. We await a King… a true King… the greatest of Kings… He who is King of kings and Lord of lords. Hence the royal blue that now adorns the chancel.

But our focus on this, the First Sunday of Advent, also takes us to the time and place where our salvation actually took place. Oh, for sure, we will soon be worshiping the Christ-Child in Bethlehem, but now our attention is on Christ, the God-Man, as He draws near to Bethphage and Bethany.

Down the road is Jerusalem which He, Jesus, will enter in riding on… of all things… a donkey… actually a donkey’s colt. He entered into our world in the humblest of ways… a baby born in a lowly cattle stall. And now He enters into Jerusalem in a likewise humble way.

Soon… so very soon… then only five days away… such humbleness and humiliation will reach its highest point as our Lord is stripped naked and nailed to a cross… lifted high upon the cross… for all to see.

My friends, we are truly blessed this morning because we have before us the very “bookends” of our salvation. And make no mistake about it. These and everything in between are marked with great humility – our Lord’s! For us!

Humility – it is certainly something that we and all of humanity could use a little more of… a lot more of… we who can so easily inflate our worth, our importance, our abilities and accomplishments. It would be an understatement to say that boasting comes easy for the sinful self.

All of this stands in stark contrast to the truth of the matter that we are nothing… amount to nothing… among the lowest of the low… apart from Jesus Christ… true God… whose majesty and glory are co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Sin certainly has done its job of moving us away, removing us ever so far from the holy and the divine.

To think, Christ our Lord willingly… wantingly… left His throne on high, all the splendor and unimaginable glory of heaven… to come to us… to dwell with us… to teach us… heal us… yes, to die for us that we might be free… finally free… completely free of every spot and stain of sin upon us… free from Satan… free from death and the grave… free from all things hurtful and harmful… all things ugly and evil.

Christ our Lord willingly hid His true exalted state in the flesh of His humanity so that He looked like any man… like all men… all people. Indeed, the Prophet Isaiah foresees Christ’s coming and His person telling us, “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:2-3)

But we and all the faithful no longer hide our faces from our dear Lord and Savior. Not in the least. Instead we cannot take our eyes off of Him as we gaze in wonder and amazement at what He did for us and for our salvation.

The world, especially during this holiday season, will do everything in its power to take our eyes off of Jesus. And so will our own sinful flesh. That is why fighting the good fight of faith is at its highest during the times when one would think it would be at its lowest… its easiest… certainly at the nativity of our Lord, and also at His death, His resurrection and ascension.

Worldly temptations are everywhere and if we are not on our guard… not in the Lord… in His Word and in His Body, the Church… we will give in to them. We will fall prey to the ways of this world and not even realize what has happened… what we have left and what has been taken away. It is not just a possibility, it is a certainty.

But here, that cannot happen. God’s Holy Spirit sees to that as He holds up for us to take in to our hearts the “bookends of our salvation and everything in between.” Here the Spirit enlightens us to the Gospel… the Good News of Jesus Christ from beginning to end… indeed, that which will have no end.

Here, we are lovingly fed and fortified in the blessed hearing of God’s Word and the receiving of the Holy Sacrament of the Altar. All here. All of the time… all sufficient and efficacious.

So, dear brothers and sisters, with the gracious guidance of the Holy Spirit, let us with great reverence, humbleness and joy enter into this special time of the year and relish every moment of it… cherish every detail of it… namely, our salvation and how much God loves us and this seen so perfectly in His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. A blessed Advent to you all! Amen.

May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.

“Bookends and Everything in Between”  2/2/18  The Rev. Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL