Monday, November 28, 2011

You king Comes to You, Yes you, (First sunday in Advent)

Matthew 21:1-9 (ESV) Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Beth-phage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, [2] saying to them, "Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. [3] If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will send them at once." [4] This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, [5] "Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.' " [6] The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. [7] They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. [8] Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. [9] And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” It does seem odd, the first Sunday in Advent, Christmas carols playing for a month now in the stores. 2 Weeks ago, Thanksgiving not even here yet, and I saw “the Twelve roasts of Christmas” at the grocery store. But we seem to be out doing them, because we have a Palm Sunday text before us, and Holy Week is a lot further out than Christmas is. Thing is most people have no idea what the season of advent is about. It isn’t really Christmas. One reason I love this congregation. Most pastors are mumbling under their breath about right now about advent trees, it not being Christmas etc. I figure in about two weeks someone will realize we don’t yet have a tree and put it up. My cynical side says it is just the laid back nature of this congregation, that never gets too much done in a hurry. My more positive side says it’s the fact this congregation knows the difference between Advent and Christmas. Advent is really an eschatological season, preparing for the coming of our king, the coming of the messiah. In reality it is a season invoking the same expectations of the Jewish people before the advent, the arrival, of Christ. The one that has them in the street crying Hosanna! Or Praise be! Here is there long awaited king, their long awaited Messiah, and they have no idea what they are waiting for, who he really is, what he will really do. This is the fulfillment of their hope, but it isn’t what they expected. The Son of David, coming in the name of the Lord. Their king coming to them on a donkey. Who would expect this? Even when it is written so plainly in scripture, it is not quite what they expect. It wasn’t what John the Baptist expected either. Neither were they expecting God to come as a child born of a virgin, to be laid in a manger. But in this manner, your king comes to you, oh Zion, yes you. You are Zion. I suppose that is somewhat a dangerous statement. We live in a state that has twisted the meaning of Zion. They weren’t the first. A movie about Walther came out a month ago. We really should watch it for Bible Study. He was considered the founder of the Missouri Synod, but the story doesn’t really start with him. It actually starts with a cult like frenzy around a charismatic fellow. I tell you now, I get queasy with the comparisons between that early group of settlers, and the pioneers of Utah. The only thing I can see that accounts for the differences in outcome is the word of God. It is amazing to see the repentance and wrestling of the people to remain true to God’s word. They thought they were Zion, they were, but not in the way one would first think. Zion, the kingdom of God, is not about earthly government, even if that government calls itself a church, a bishop, or a prophet. Zion the kingdom of God, is a spiritual kingdom. As it says in Romans 14, it is not about eating and drinking, but of righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of God, Zion, is then spiritual. The righteousness is not about those things that we think make for righteousness, food and drink. That would make it an earthly kingdom, a matter of this world, that would make the righteousness depend on us and what we do. But it is his kingdom, his reign. It depends not on us but on our king who comes to us humble, on a donkey, to die for our sin. That is where Holy week culminates, his death for our life, assured by his resurrection. That is our messiah, our savior. And he comes to you. He comes today, he comes here. He comes in his word read, his word proclaimed, his word made flesh and blood for the forgiveness of sins, in bread and wine. Here, here he comes to forgive you your sins, to give you righteousness, and peace, and Joy in the Holy Spirit, for this reason he came as a baby to be laid in a manger, for this reason he came as a wandering prophet, for this reason he came humble on a donkey, and for this reason he makes himself known wherever two or three are gathered in his name. Behold, Zion, He is with you always, and yet he still comes. Yet he still comes. So we pray, thy kingdom come. So we pray, even so Lord, come quickly. Maranatha.

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