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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sermon 12092012 Advent 2

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!  Lord of hosts the day that is coming, burning like a furnace where for some it will be a refining fire, for others it will consume.  May we be refined and not be ashes under the soles of others feet, so we may become perfect and more like You and hear the words of the prophets foretelling of Your coming to save all of mankind.  For this promise is made, from Genesis to Malachi and for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

This past summer when four of our confirmands attended Confirmation Camp, we were part of a group in exile.  As you know we usually go to Sky Ranch to experience God in a more deep and profound way, but with the fires raging Sky Ranch was evacuated and we were able to attend Highlands Presbyterian Camp.  Sitting on the benches outside of the main hall you could see straight North and without fail see the plumes of smoke lofting into the sky from the fire that caused the evacuation of Sky Ranch.  Matter of fact on our drive there we saw from over 100 miles away the smoke and debris of that fire.

Consider our Old Testament Lesson this morning. Malachi, the last of the Old Testament prophets, whose book and in fact our lesson is the book end of the entire Old Testament, specifically the last recorded words of the Old Testament foretells of a time that seemed eerily similar to the fire we could see from both Highlands Camp and our drive.  Malachi writes, “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace”.  With allusion to similar circumstances of the book of Daniel of the burning furnace, Malachi tells of a furnace that is burning, not gently, but with vigor and destruction.  He continues, “and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff, and the day that is coming will set them ablaze…so that it will leave them neither root nor branch”.  This fire will not be quenched, fed by the chaff of the evildoer and arrogant of this world it will not burn gently but consume everything it touches that is evil.

Yet, the promise revealed is not only crystal clear, but full of sweet Gospel.  Malachi writes, “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings”.  This promise given by Malachi is directly from God for His people and for us today.  It is a promise for those of us who fear God’s name, who humble themselves and bend the knee and who are not arrogant and ‘self-appointed righteous people’.  The promise is what we are preparing for this morning and this entire season of Advent.  It is the promise and the fulfillment of the promise found in our Savior, Jesus Christ.

During the mid-week and last Sunday we sang the hymn of “Prepare the Royal Highway” and that is exactly what John the Baptist job was to prepare for the promised Messiah.  As a kind of “Elijah” John’s calling was to call the people to repentance and return to prepare for the coming Messiah.  For the Messiah is coming to “restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers”.  Jesus coming is a restoration or return of our hearts to the purity that was originally intended in the Garden of Eden before the Fall of Adam and Eve.

Jesus Whom we are preparing for with every passing day of Advent comes to restore us to Himself.  Jesus Christ comes “so that He [I] will not come and smite the land with a curse”, but comes to restore us and return us to the kingdom of God.  Fallen creatures as we are, John came to begin the process and the Christ child we look for in the manger fulfills this process with His life, death and resurrection.

Therefore, we who believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah Who came and died to take away our sins and confess our sins, receive the greatest gift offered mankind, the forgiveness of sins won on the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind by Jesus Christ.  This is our preparation for the promises foretold by Malachi in the Old Testament and which we prepare for during this season of Advent.  May all of us who hear the Gospel of salvation freely offered by Jesus Christ be changed by the Holy Spirit Who sanctifies us and calls us to the one true faith.  And may our preparation during Advent, not only be a preparation of our houses and homes, but true preparation of our hearts, not to be ashes under the feet of others, but may we be refined in order to enter the manger and on bended knee welcome the Christ Child Who comes to set us free to be saints gathered here at Emmanuel Lutheran in Goodland, KS this morning.  AMEN.
//trial script