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Sunday, December 7, 2014

12072014 Advent 2 - POPULUS ZION - The Second Sunday in Advent

Gospel Audio
Sermon Audio

December 7, 2014
Are you prepared for Jesus Christ?
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

A few weeks ago I told of how Michele and I are preparing for my parents visit in a few weeks.  Like with any visit whether relatives or with friends for an evening meal, there is anticipation and there is perspiration.  The one takes place inside of ourselves and sometimes keeps us up at night, the other is the work that we have to complete with our hands and by the sweat of our brow before their arrival.  But all of this connects clearly with our Advent Worship.

This week we continue our series of the Advent Candles and contemplate the second candle.  It is sometimes known as the Candle of Preparation or the Bethlehem Candle.  We need to ask ourselves as we prepare during this Advent season, “Are we prepared for Jesus Christ?”

When I visited with Edna Snethen in the hospital last year about this time, she and I talked about the coming of Jesus Christ and our return to Him in heaven.  We both agreed that we do not know the day nor the hour of His return, nor do we know when we will be called home to be with Him.  Yet, though we do not know when, we both agreed that we still needed to be prepared.  And this Candle of Preparation we light this morning is just that, a reality check for us who gather here today that we need to be prepared for Jesus return.

Each of our lessons this morning reflects, refines and refocuses this concept of preparation and concentrates us on the reality of our need for preparation.  Just like a magnifying lens used to capture the sunlight and focus its rays, our lessons illuminate the reality of our need of preparation for Jesus coming in the manger.  For the King cometh, Jesus Christ is coming and we need to be prepared.  Just like farmers in the spring after a winter slumber check the irrigation towers and pivots and get out the planters and make sure they are serviced, repaired and ready to plant the corn or milo to insure a crop in the fall.  So to in the church and in our individual lives during Advent we need to prepare and be prepared for Jesus entrance in Bethlehem.

Sure, we look to the manger and say, this is only a Child.  Yet, this Child Who lays apparently helpless in the manger is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  This is Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh Who dwells among mankind.  Jesus Christ comes to offer each and every one of us life and salvation.  Jesus Christ takes on His Humanity beginning as each of us began as babes, but this is no ordinary Child, this is the Savior of the World that we find in the manger in Bethlehem.

In our lighting this Candle of Preparation, we prepare, not only the wreath counting down the weeks until our celebration of Christmas, but also the preparation of our hearts and homes for the entrance of the King.  We light the Candle of Preparation and of Hope because this is God’s fulfillment of His promise of a Savior to come down to earth and save us.  We light the Advent Wreath to be a beacon for Goodland where we live and our church community in which we gather to partake of His precious Body and Blood.  We light the Candles because we live in a world full of darkness that is filled with fallen humanity in need of the light of Christ.  The Advent Wreath leads us down the path of remembering and preparing for Jesus and sharing why He comes in a lowly manger.

For Jesus Christ is the light that breaks the bonds of darkness and shows us the way to Him.  Jesus Christ is the light of the World.  We prepare and light our Advent Wreath candles in preparation of His entrance not only in a manger in Bethlehem, but especially into each of our hearts.  We light our Advent Wreath in order to pass on to the future, our children our history and heritage and especially our faith in our King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

We light simple candles in a circular wreath in order to lighten our path and our journey to the manger to meet our Savior.  For our Savior, Jesus Christ comes offering us grace and forgiveness and we remember this not only with our wreath of candles, but around and from the Altar.  For Jesus Christ offers in, with and under His Body and Blood the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation, not for a select few, but for all of mankind.  And we are empowered to share this with our fallen world, including all of mankind, but especially all of us saints who come to light the Advent candles in preparation on this the Second Sunday in Advent here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

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