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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sermon 12022012 Advent 1

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!  Jesus Christ, the Lord Our Righteousness as we enter a new church year enable our hearts to hear clearly the Gospel of our salvation brought by Your death on Calvary for us.  Allow us as we prepare our homes and hearts to prepare again for our celebration of Your entrance in Bethlehem.  For You are our righteous branch and will reign as king, not only of the World but of our hearts and souls that You won on Calvary.  For You offer us the greatest gift of salvation freely for all of mankind including all of the saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

In the recent movie Brave it is clear that the Queen ‘runs the kingdom’.  When the clans are gathered together in the great chamber to present the ‘suitors’ for Princes Merida’s hand, the Queen while chaos and fighting are ensuing around her walks through the upheaval and upon reaching her husband and the other leaders of the clans brings order from chaos and restores a clear sense of order.

This morning as we gather at the beginning of another church year, we have the opportunity to bring order from the chaos that surrounds us in the world around us.  Christmas decorations have been in Wal-Mart since before Halloween, ads for the great sales have been assaulting our minds on television, radio and the internet for weeks.  And no longer is there an anticipation of the real reason for the Christmas season, but a dread hoping that it would be over quickly so we can return to the stress free life of family not hovering around, meals that have to be prepared a certain way and the travel required to see everyone..

Our dread over the seasons is a result of our society overtaking the sacredness of the seasons from the church.  We as a church have allowed and catered to society, even though we live in this world, but we should not be ‘of this world’.  Jeremiah the prophet from our Old Testament lesson this morning prophecies clearly about the coming of something greater for all of mankind including we today here in Goodland, KS.  Jeremiah says “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land.”  This prophecy of a ‘righteous branch’ is clearly about Jesus Christ Who will come as King and act wisely.  The Gospel we heard this morning is from Palm Sunday.  The expectation was the fulfillment of Jeremiah that Jesus riding on a colt, the foal of the donkey would be ‘crowned King’.  But unlike the events that followed Jesus triumphal entry, Jesus crown was not of gold, but of thorns that cut His brow and ultimately resulted in His innocent death on Calvary.

The first century society expected Jesus to radically change the outcome of persecution that was occurring in that day and age.  But the prophecy of Jeremiah was larger than what they could imagine.  Jesus would radically change their perspective, but it wasn’t what they understood that would change.  Jeremiah continues, ““In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.’”  Jesus entrance into Jerusalem would herald His being the ultimate sacrifice for all of mankind.  Jesus Christ with the title, “The Lord our righteousness” would save Judah and all of mankind.  Jesus Christ would save them and us not from the rulers of the time, the sales at Wal-Mart, Target or any of the on-line merchants, but from the sin that pervaded the people’s lives including ours today.  Jesus in, through and by His death on Calvary would set mankind free from sin, death, the devil, hell and damnation.

This is what we are preparing for as we begin our Advent pilgrimage, the ultimate sacrifice of “The Lord our righteousness”, Jesus Christ.  But ultimately the responsibility of change in each of us will only come as a result of our believing that Jesus Christ came to set us free.  We will not be free from the bonds that society tries to place us under until we change ourselves, but this only occurs through the work of the Holy Spirit.  It is only by God’s work in our lives that we will be changed.  Now you would rightly say, how can we change a society, we in and of ourselves are unable to do this, but God working through us is able to change society.  We do this by remembering the real reason for the season, preparing our hearts, souls and spirits for the entrance of a Babe in Bethlehem.

For in our preparing the church for the celebration of Jesus Birth, in our preparing our homes for the mystery of a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and our preparing our hearts for the entrance of Jesus Christ we will be changed and society through us will be changed.  We will not be able to see the change, but God will make the change in His time.  The prophecy and promises are clear for us today through Jeremiah the prophet that “The Lord our Righteousness” comes to set us free to be the people of God.  This is the promise we are not only told of, but are participants of and included in for all of mankind, including all of us saints that are gathered here at Emmanuel this morning as we begin our Advent pilgrimage.  AMEN.
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