Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sermon November 26 – 27, 2011

Title: Rejoice! Your God has come and will come again!

Text: Mark 11:9-10

The Triumphal Entry
9And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!"

For one last time, on July 21st of this year, the Space Shuttle Atlantis made a long, steep turn, lined up with the runway and landed in the half-light before dawn at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"After serving the world for 30 years, the space shuttle has found its place in history," said Christopher Ferguson, the astronaut who commanded Atlantis' final mission, by radio to mission control. "Wheels stop." The ship came to rest at 5:58 a.m. EDT, after a flight of 12 days, 18 hours, 28 minutes and 55 seconds.
And that was that.  By NED POTTER ABC July 21, 2011

No parade, no big national celebration, plenty to look back at, many successes and a few tragedies …

But, back on March 1, 1962, to celebrate astronaut John Glenn’s return from his first space launch, 3,474 tons of ticker tape we’re dumped onto Broadway. Compare that to the 36.5 tons of confetti that was dropped after the New Your Giants won the Super Bowl in 2008 … They just don’t throw paper like they used to!

Now, I’m sure New York Giants fans probably don’t see it this way, but by one measure, the team’s Super Bowl victory in 2008 was almost one-hundredth of the significance of John Glenn’s space flight. KEN BELSON February 7, 2008

Today, we celebrate the first Sunday in Advent as we look forward to an event so monumental in world history that no amount of Ticker Tape could do it justice. The incarnation of the Son of God, who was born of the Virgin Mary and became man, God with us, Emmanuel. And, while we don’t celebrate Christ’s coming as the Babe of Bethlehem today with a parade, we can all:

Rejoice! Your God has come and will come again!

The Gospel reading from our text today is of a different celebration and a different time in the life of Jesus. But, it is all the same mission; Jesus, who came to Earth, to be born of the Virgin, to live a sinless life, to suffer and die for the sins of the whole world and to rise from the dead. His simple birth was not one of great notice. It was in a manger because there was no room in the Inn. It was in a little town, Bethlehem, prophesied of old.

"But you, Bethlehem, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." Mic 5:2

This babe would grow to manhood and begin his ministry that would ultimately lead to the cross and death but on this day we read of a celebratory parade.

Jesus called two of His disciples to Him and commissioned them for a peculiar service. They were to go to the hamlet of Bethphage, which was just before them, which Christ's entire company was about to enter. Without delay, without trouble or difficulty, they would there find a colt tied in a certain place, upon which no person had ever sat.

It was a solemn, important mission, foretold even by the prophets. In the Old Testament we read: For sacred purposes only unused animals could be employed, (Num. 19, 2; 1 Sam. 6, 7.)

This colt they should untie from the post and then lead it to Jesus. The directions are very exact and circumstantial, that no mistake is possible. It may, of course, happen that the owner of the animal would object to this proceeding. In that event they were to tell the owner: The Lord has need of him.

When He, the great Creator and Master of heaven and earth, is in need of anything, it must be forthcoming; anyone and every creature can be pressed into His service. But, he also promised, by His messengers, that the foal would be returned without delay, after He had had His use of it. Kretzmann Pg. 225-26

4And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5And some of those standing there said to them, "What
are you doing, untying the colt?" 6And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!"

Let us proclaim this good news together:
"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Say it with me …
"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

No ticker Tape parade, but a glorious entry and a fitting procession. The God of Heaven and Earth has come as the God/man and humble servant Jesus Christ. What had not been celebrated by the people at His birth was being celebrated by His entry – here - in Jerusalem. The King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s was entering the city, of King David, to fulfill His mission; to free the people from their sin and to restore the relationship between God and man.

Rejoice! Your God has come and will come again!

We too at our baptism are marked as “one redeemed by Christ the crucified.” We are buried with Christ in baptism and raised to newness of life, washed clean from our sin and wearing Christ’s righteousness in exchange for our sinfulness.

We confirm this blessed exchange in our Confirmation when we stand before the congregation and say what we were unable to say as baptized infants. We were marked with Christ at baptism and live to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit in us, until Christ returns or we are called to our heavenly rest in Him. But, the sad truth is that many once baptized, don’t cling to this good and blessed Good News that on account of Christ merits we are forgiven. The numbers are staggering.

As I watched a presentation on the state of our church by Matthew Harrison, President of our Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, he related that of all the children who are baptized in Christ, in our churches, only about half complete their confirmation and of those that get confirmed, less than half become regular attending members …

I was listening to a radio program the other day and they were discussing church membership and the question was asked of the pastor: “Does your church have more members, or more that attend?” “Oh, he said, we have many more members than those that attend.”

The truth is that we who serve Christ’s church and all of us who have been blessed to be brought to faith by our loving and merciful God need to look in the mirror and say, “Thank the Lord for this free gift and for calling me to faith!” and then go and serve and love our neighbor as Christ has loved us.

Martin Luther said this of the Christian life:
Therefore the life of a Christian, from baptism to the grave, is nothing else than the beginning of a blessed death. For at the Last Day God will make him altogether new.

Rejoice! Your God has come and will come again!

"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!"

This is the praise that those in Jerusalem celebrated. God with us, Emanuel! The God who is and was and will be coming again was here for them to see, and to celebrate as he rode triumphantly into Jerusalem. But, in a short while He would be arrested, tried, condemned, mocked, crucified in the most brutal of ways and buried to complete His mission for you. His mission to free the world over sin, death and the devil would soon be completed; but, the grave could not hold Him and on the third day … He rose.

Rejoice! Your God has come and will come again!

God has come as the babe of Bethlehem, for you. He has stood in your place, in the river Jordan, and was marked with all sinners when he was baptized by John. He went to the cross willingly, and suffered the scorn and shame of a most brutal death, as the full measure of God’s wrath was poured out upon Him … for you.

He gives us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, faith in Him to believe and as St. Paul says:

9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. (Phil: 3-9)

This Advent season is a time to look back … and to look forward. To contemplate Christ’s coming to us at Christmas as the babe in the manger, who was born with no great human accolades and celebratory parades, but also to remember the cost for our freedom, paid by the sinless life, suffering death and glorious resurrection of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

Christ came to reconcile God and man and to pay the price, for sin, once and for all. We celebrate this loving act and our freedom in Him as we also continue to wait for His glorious return when we and all believers will be gathered to our heavenly home.

Rejoice! Your God has come and will come again!

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!

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