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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sermon 12112011 Advent 3

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  Heavenly Father, You clearly prophecy through Jeremiah and the prophets and open up to us the truth of the scripture message.  May we hear in Jeremiah’s prophecy of the new covenant how You forgive us our sins.  For this only occurs through what Your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ has done on the Cross of Calvary for all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

For our confirmation students this year, we have required them to sign a ‘covenant’ with us.  In the covenant there are some requirements and expectations that both myself as Pastor, them as students and you as congregational members are required to fulfill.  What most of us may not realize is that we enter covenants all the time.  How about when you bought your first car?  Took out your first loan on your house?  Or got your first license, whether, driving, marriage or hunting.  Covenants are a daily part of business in the world.  We even find that in the bible covenants were used, not only between men for business dealings, but also between God and man.

Jeremiah the prophet clearly prophesies about a ‘new covenant’.  Hear his prophecy:

31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

The covenant that Jeremiah prophesied impacts each and every one of us today.  Jeremiah said, “But this covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God…  God places this covenant within us when we are baptized in the waters of baptism.  When water with Word is intimately connected, and God’s grace is showered over us, we are made God’s people and forgiven for our sins.  As God’s people we receive not only forgiveness of sins, but life and salvation brought to us through what Jesus Christ has done for all of us on the cross of Calvary.  And we clearly hear through Jeremiah, that God says, “I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 

Yet, what does it mean to be God’s people?  What does it mean to have written on our hearts, God’s law?  What does it mean for us today to be in covenant with God?  Being in covenant means we are in relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We are in a personal relationship with God the Father Who provides for our every physical need.  We are in a personal relationship with God the Son, Who died on the Cross of Calvary to set us free from the bondage of sin.  We are in a personal relationship with God the Holy Spirit, Who calls, gathers and enlightens us daily.  This covenant is the Christian life.  It is the life we are called to lead maintaining our focus on what God did for us in the waters of baptism when He washed us clean and placed His law in our hearts.  We feel His law on our hearts when we feel sorry for our sins and return to God in our worship and confession that we are sinful creatures.

And thus, when we confess our sins, the promise God makes to us through the prophet Jeremiah becomes a personal reality.  Our sins that we carry, no matter how big or small God says, “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.  The freedom we receive that Jeremiah tells us about is not something that occurs irregularly, but every time we come and worship God and hear the words of absolution, I speak at the beginning of the service, where by Christ’s command and in His stead, I proclaim, “I declare unto you the entire forgiveness of all of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
As we continue to prepare for the coming of our Lord and journey with the prophets during this Advent season, we can boldly confess our sins and receive the forgiveness offered to us through what Jesus Christ has done for us on Calvary.  For in celebrating and remembering the coming of the Christ Child in the manger, the covenant God has made with us and placed on our hearts becomes more tangible.  And we begin to understand the sacrifice Jesus made in coming in a manger to fulfill the covenant made with and for us in our baptism through Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary for all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.
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