Sunday, December 4, 2011

Behold, the Day Is Coming

If you would like to hear the sermon preached at Trinity Lutheran Church in Layton, Utah for Ad Te Levavi, the Second Sunday in Advent, click on this MP3 audio link--"Behold, the Day Is Coming."

The audio includes the Hymn of the Day, "Lo! He Comes on Clouds Descending," LSB #336. The sermon begins at the 4:47 mark.

Behold, the Day Is Coming--indeed it is already here--when Jesus forgives you all your sins and gives you eternal life.

A rough preaching manuscript follows below if you prefer to read along or read instead.

Behold, the Day Is Coming! This is the message of Advent. That is what Advent means: coming. So in the season of the church year called Advent, we prepare for the coming of the Lord, our Savior -- Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Last week we heard the prophet Jeremiah tell us to, Behold the coming of the righteous branch of David, the One who came to bring righteousness to the earth and make us righteous by coming to die and rise and ascend. While the Gospel of Matthew had us Behold our king coming to us humbly on a donkey. Both so we might Behold our king coming humbly in the things of His Church to bestow His righteousness on us by forgiving us our sins.

Now today we Behold the day that is coming when this king who came humbly will come in all His glory.

Malachi tells us that glory is a two-edged something of a two-edged sword. This is something to remember well when we get caught up in the desire for the glory of the Lord.

1“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 4:1–3

The sun is a raging inferno that would vaporize us if we were not in the proper place in relationship to it. The temperature at the surface of the sun is about 10,000 Fahrenheit. The temperature rises from the surface of the sun inward towards the very hot center of the sun where it reaches about 27,000,000 Fahrenheit. Yet here on earth, 92,955,807.3 mi away, God has placed us in the perfect place in relationship to the heat it generates to be able to live. In fact, without the heat and light form the sun we couldn’t live.

To be in the proper place in relationship to the LORD for His coming in glory [reference Malachi] text we must be in the relationship of faith that lives in the forgiveness of Christ as a repentant sinner-- confessing our sin as the most heinous before God and the only evil that separates us from His love and places us in the blaze of His righteous anger. That means, for us and our salvation, because of His great mercy and love for us, we behold the glory of the Lord now in a very different way—the glory of the cross.

Easily, the most frequently asked question of me is, “Pastor why do you have to call us sinners all the time – every sermon, every service?” And truth be told, unlike “Jeopardy,” it is not always phrased in the form of a question – “Pastor, my parents/children/friends don’t like to come here because of all that talk about sin in our service and your sermons. You need to be more upbeat and the service should be more uplifting if we want our church to grow.”

But what is more uplifting, more glorious, than to be rescued from the depths of our sin and into the very presence of God in His holy Kingdom? Sadly, much of Christianity would have you believe that, once you have heard the good news and accepted Jesus as your personal Savior who lives in your heart, sin is no longer an issue for you. Therefore, if you believe and have the Holy Spirit, all that is left is to be happy and to tell God and the world how much you love them. So church becomes a matter of entertainment and partying with the Lord—seeking to bask in His glory.

The prophet Malachi shows us how dangerous that glory apart from the cross really is.

Dear people of Trinity, church is all about delivering the forgiveness of sins, or it is nothing at all. It is why Jesus came, it is why he comes, it is why He is coming again –to take away the sin of the world, and to take us away from the sin of the world. Behold! The day is coming when the Lord in all His glory will utterly destroy all sin and sinfulness in the blaze of His glory. To prepare us, this is what He is always coming to do in His Word—destroy our sin and putting us in the proper place in relationship to Him, i.e. faith.

That is what a Savior does. That is what our Savior does. That is what The Savior does.

If you have no sin you need no Savior and Christmas is a hapless holiday, a moldy manger, a feastless festival—and you will be in the wrong place in relationship to the Sun of righteousness when He comes in His blazing glory.

So repent! The kingdom of God is at hand. Advent IS coming, Jesus coming to earth for the salvation of all who believe.

Let it be so among us now and until the very end of our days so that when we behold the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory we will not be consumed in the blaze of glory but be healed as the sun of righteousness

Have a most blessed Advent season, a very merry Christmas and I’ll see you in church – where the LORD is coming and is here to forgive you all your sins and give you eternal life– In the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

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