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Sunday Thoughts for Advent 1

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday (Dec. 2) is the First Sunday of Advent (some say “in” Advent). While the difference between “in” and “of” is significant during Lent, it isn’t during Advent. I choose the word “of” simply because it is the excruciating correct selection. (Ask me if you want to know why.)

The first Sunday of Advent is always the Sunday that falls closest to November 30 (Festival of St. Andrew, Apostle). That means that some Advents have three Wednesdays and some have four. This year we will have three.

With the advent (pun intended) of December, we will move to Divine 1 for our Sunday mornings. As Advent is a “penitential” season, the Hymn of Praise (Gloria in Excelsis or This is the Feast) is omitted. Also omitted are all “Alleluias.”

We will be presenting our pledges for the coming year during the worship service.

Thanks to the work of our hymn review committee, between our Wednesday services and our Sunday services, we will be singing all the Advent hymns the congregation knows this season, and none of the ones we don’t know. This Sunday, our hymns will be:

Opening Hymn: Once He Came in Blessing LSB 333
Sermon Hymn: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel LSB 357
Distribution Hymns: O Lord, We Praise Thee LSB 617
Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates LSB 341
Jesus Comes Today with Healing LSB 620
Closing Hymn: Abide, O Dearest Jesus LSB 919

The readings for this coming Sunday are: Jeremiah 33:14–16; 1 Thessalonians 3:9–13 Luke 21:25–36.

The sermon text will be 1 Thessalonians 3:13. The sermon will be titled “The Comings of Advent.”

Below are the lessons and some initial thoughts.

Jeremiah 33:14–16
14 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’

My Initial Thoughts: Jeremiah gives us a prophecy about the first Advent of Jesus, who is the Righteous Branch. The image of a branch sprouting up reminds us that Jesus a descendant of David. “The house of Israel and the house of Judah” is understood first in terms of the “seed” promised to Eve (Genesis 3:13) and repeated down to David. However, as we remember that this promised “seed” is to be a blessing to all nations (Genesis 18:18; 22:18; 26:24), we also think of Israel in terms of all believers. The promises “seed” was never only to the descendants of Jacob, but always to all the descendants of Eve. In this text, the justice and righteousness spoken of are those seen on the cross. Therefore Judah, and indeed all humanity were saved, we dwell securely in that salvation Christ merited for us. We need not fear the wrath of God. The objective nature of justification is seen in the name given Jesus, “The LORD is our righteousness.”

1 Thessalonians 3:9–13
9For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

My Initial Thoughts: Timothy has sent Paul and encouraging report and Paul is responding to that report. Even though Paul is currently undergoing “distress and affliction” the good report has brought him comfort and joy. Therefore he thanks God for Timothy and the church at Thessalonica. Paul hopes that the Lord will allow him to visit, but more than that he hopes the congregation continues to follow the Lord’s guidance. The end result being that Jesus establishes their hearts as blameless in holiness before the Father. That is to say, they are confirmed in their faith in Jesus, who we saw in our reading from Jeremiah, is our righteousness. “At the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints” is a reference to the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of time (last Sunday’s sermon) when he returns with all the saints who have preceded the living into glory.

Luke 21:25–36
25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

My Initial Thoughts: With this Sunday, we are beginning “series C” of our lectionary. This means that our Gospel lessons will be drawn mainly from the Gospel of Luke for the next year. You will notice that this lesson is VERY similar to our Gospel lesson from Mark last week. If you don’t remember the sermon, you can listen to it again and have an excellent idea of my initial thoughts on this text. The only thing I’ll lift out here is the phrase “this generation.” Jesus is referring to the time period stretching between his Incarnation and his Second Coming. We are not to expect some other “generation,” some different “dispensation,” prior to his return.

May the Lord use this to help us prepare for our worship on Sunday.

Pastor

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