Summary: A sermon for the First Sunday in Advent, Series C.
1st Sunday in Advent- December 3, 2006- “Series C”
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we give you thanks that you have, throughout the ages, remained faithful to your promise to redeem those who trust in you. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, open our hearts and minds to a deepened faith, that we might continue to trust in your faithfulness, and in the midst of turmoil, view the future with hope. This we ask in the name of your Son, Jesus the Christ, who was, who is, and who is to come. Amen.
Today we begin a new church year, as we celebrate the First Sunday in the Season of Advent, and begin anew to proclaim the message of God’s word and saving grace. This year, our lessons will be from “Series C” of the three-year Common Lectionary, which features the Gospel of Luke.
And I believe that it is only fitting, as we begin to tell this awesome story, which will unfold as we move through the various seasons of the church year, that we focus on the fact that God first reveals himself to us with a promise. But more importantly, during this season of Advent, we focus on the fact that God not only reveals himself to us through his promise, but that he is faithful in keeping his promise.
Think of the ways God has been faithful through the years. He promised that Abraham would be the father of a great nation, even though he and his wife, Sarah, had little reason to believe that this would ever come to fruition. But God kept his promise, and they conceived and gave birth to Isaac. And then later, God made a promise to redeem Israel from slavery in Egypt. And he kept his promise, calling Moses back to Egypt as God’s instrument by which he would fulfill his promise.
When many in Israel were taken into captivity in Babylon, God promised that the day would come when he would act to enable their return. In our first lesson for this morning, Jeremiah joyfully announces that the day was soon approaching when God would fulfill his promise. And sure enough, that day came.
Of course, God also promised that as Israel again suffered from being in bondage, that he would send a Messiah, one who would restore God’s kingdom, that his people might live in freedom. And as Christians, we believe that God was again faithful his promise, in the person of Jesus the Christ, who, through his death and resurrection, has freed us, not from the bondage of oppression, but from our ultimate bondage to sin and death.
But during Advent, as we begin to tell the story of God’s word and grace for our lives, is not just a time to recall how God has been faithful to his promises in the past. It is also a time for us to realize, that as a result of our baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection, God has made a promise to us! And as a result, we are a part of the story that will unfold as we progress through these seasons of the church year.
Our Gospel lesson for this morning is a part of what constitutes God’s promise to us. And when this text is read in the context of this whole chapter in Luke’s Gospel, it is so alive with meaning for our life, and our present day situation, that it can not help but capture our attention and beg us to listen.
Some of the things that Jesus says leading up to this morning’s lesson are: “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately… Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes…famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from the heavens…there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people…and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles…”
And then, in the first two verses of our text for this morning, Jesus says, “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
This sounds horrible, dismal and depressing, doesn’t it? And what makes it even worse, is the fact that it seems to be happening right now, in our own lifetime. There is the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention the ongoing battle between Israel and the Gentiles that has been going on for years. And it is not just nation against nation, as those who foster terrorism have spread their war to nearly all parts of the civilized world.