Thursday, December 13, 2018

Sermon Dec. 12, 2018 Advent Midweek 2

Title: God prepares the way for Jesus and for you!
Text: Luke 3:1-14

4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

Preparation is necessary in many parts of life:

My friend Paul Ruehl released an album in 1985 called Star of the Morning. On it was a song “Every Valley shall be filled” based on this text from Isaiah. Paul asked me to play guitar on the song and most of it was straight forward but when it came to the solo I wanted something a bit different. What I ended up with was a backwards guitar solo!

It involves a technique that of flipping the reels of tape over and reversing them on the spools and then recording on a different track while listening to the song going backwards … while trying to play guitar in a regular way. You start also at the end of where the solo is and work your way backwards to the point of the beginning of the solo.

If it sounds a bit difficult … it is. It took much thinking, preparation, and work on my part to have a good result - and then after it was done - I had to hope that Paul would like the end result. Thankfully he did.

In our Gospel reading it is God who prepares the way for his Son!

Luke is fascinating with the detail that he gives:

3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

The call to repentance for and by John was not a teaching ministry. He was not called to pastor the Judean countryside. He was a herald proclaiming what God had given him. To call to repentance all who would hear, repent and believe that … This (Jesus) is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

The call for this second midweek in Advent is much the same. Prepare is the word on our advent banner this week. But, what do we prepare? Is it the decorations on the house and on the tree? Is it all the gifts that we need to buy and cookies that need baked? Is it traveling plans and vacation daydreams that drive you? Normally for me it is all nativity sets Monica has that and we put up? I think we actually have 12?

The truth is you all get pulled to something and you prepare for something. Only you know what that is. For us this year our preparation was different as we prepared for Monica’s surgery. Now it is to prepare for her return home and recovery.

But the call of John the Baptist is to you and it’s to me too. We are called to repent and look to the one who came to breathe life by His Spirit into those, who like the people called by John himself, recognize that the kingdom of God is at hand.


This year we went Christmas caroling at many of our shut-ins homes. As we were singing I noticed a schedule left in the songbook from 2014. Lucille Schreiner, Betty Buchanan, Dorenne Ridge, Louise Garlinghouse, Ted Prueter, Hilda Klein, and Ed and Virginia Blasius were all on the list. Only Ted and Virginia remain with us while the others have finished their course in the faith having been prepared for when Jesus would call them home.

We have no idea when this Christmas is actually going to be the last Christmas with these dear Christian friends and loved ones. We need to love those close to us every day because only God knows when he will call them home. We make plans for this year and even next year... and the ones we love are always in our plans. Prepare to make this Christmas a wonderful one … especially with those you love because God’s time is not our time.

Prophets sent from God like John the Baptist are called to speak forth what God has given and called them to do, and those who heard … received a washing of repentance in John’s baptism.

His call to repent was different from the one day, the collective Day of Atonement where confession of sins was publicly confessed. This was a spontaneous response by God’s word through John’s prophetic preaching.

7 He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.
False pride in the Law and its keeping was the M.O. of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who were too rational to believe the inspired writings and they received rebuke from John. True repentance is a turning away from that which leads to death - from our sinful condition - and a return to that which saves.

And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Sin leads to death now and in eternity but repentance and faith by God’s Holy Spirit lead to life and life everlasting!

John’s washing was in preparation for the one who would come as a child. One who would ride into Jerusalem triumphant; one who would be tried and sentenced to death, a death He didn’t deserve, and one who as John said:

Is coming after me and is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Those unprepared will be cast into a Hell of their choosing; a casting, that upon Christ’s return will be Fast, Furious and Forever!

But for you … who have come to faith; who have been given pardon; who see the Christ child and have been prepared by God Holy Spirit for His coming return in Judgment and Glory. You, His wheat, will be gathered into his barn, His house, his Kingdom … forever.

The hymn O Little Town of Bethlehem reminds us:

O holy child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sins and enter in,
Be born in us today.
The great glad tidings tell:
Oh come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!

LSB 361

As you prepare all that needs done this Advent and Christmas season; Joy in the Christ the Son of the Living God who came to call you by His Spirit and redeem you by His word of forgiveness to be his child and with him forever.

God prepares the way for his Son!

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


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