If your house is like mine, thanksgiving is like the starting line for the Christmas season. There’s been a couple false starts in the last month or so where I have let the Christmas music creep in, but by and large, the Christmas season begins in the Kleimola house on black Friday. We have a black friday tradition in our house to go get our Christmas tree. We brave the elements and find our way to the forest next to Home Depot. You know where the outdoor gardening section is in the spring and Summer? They have a forest there, and I am reluctant to tell you about the deal we find each year because I don’t want our tree to be taken. But anyway, I’ll tell you. We get our tree on the Black Friday special. It’s never been published in their ads and each year we worry, maybe they wont have them this year. But they are there. $25 promo frasier firs. And here’s the thing. They dont have a very strict height restriction. We got a ten ft tree this year for our tall ceilings in our house. For $25!! So anyway Christmas is full swing on in our house. The tree was bedecked by the children with care and the stockings aren’t quite hung by the chimney with care, but you bet once we find the box they are in they’ll be there.
Anyway, Christmas is coming soon. 🎶 Even so come, Christmas is coming Soon! And that’s what advent is all about right? Advent is about expectant waiting for something to come right? Preparing for the coming of our King as a baby born to bring peace on earth and goodwill to all and all that right!! Yes and so much more. There is so much more to Advent and today we will focus in on all the comings we are waiting for and celebrating during advent because advent is the season of coming. Advent means coming. Not like coming soon stamped outside a movie theater on a poster announcing the next big show, but coming as in arriving now. Advent means coming but it’s a present tense thing it’s a now thing. It would be better to frame our hearts and minds around this time of preparation for the birth of our king to think of advent as meaning arrival. Advent means arrival. Jesus is here with us now bringing peace to troubled hearts and souls.
This peace is something we need in a desperate time like the one we live in. But the thing is this desperate time is not a new phenomenon we often like to think things haven’t been as bad as they are becoming lately, but the pride in such a thought is laughable. God sent His son Jesus into this world because it has always been rotten in need of deliverance. That’s what the Christmas message is about. That is what we are waiting to celebrate. The birth of a baby to save the world. He brings peace on earth. He is peace on earth. Jesus is peace on earth. He has come and he arrives now and he is coming again.
The season of advent begins in a strange place though. Our Gospel lesson takes us to the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry as he is arriving in Jerusalem. We have skipped over the lessons and carols of Christmas to the cries and the calls of a people thinking their earthly ruler has arrived. Marching his way to death on the cross, Jesus enters jerusalem among shoulder to shoulder crowds who think that he’s their kind of king, come to sit on a throne.
The King Jesus, though, has no mistake in his mind. He knows what he’s about. He humbly comes on a donkey hailed by the crowds calling hosanna – save us now – for all the wrong reasons. Yet salvation was exactly what he was about. Salvation is what advent is about. Our salvation has arrived. We skip past the Christmas favorites though today. Even as Christmas may be full swing in your home and it’s bedecked out in our worship spaces, the march of salvation continues to come to us in more than just a baby born to us. Jesus is and always has been about the cross for you. You cannot have the crib without the cross.
And so in the beginning of the Church’s Christmas observances we recall what Jesus came for. Not just to be adored by magi and marveled at by shepherds or even to be heralded by angels and coddled by an earthly mother and a willing stepfather. No Jesus has always been about the cross. He has always been about saving your from your self, he’s always been about saving you from your sins.
We often think JEsus into a box. We have a particular sin or situation that troubles us and we fixate on it praying for forgiveness and deliverance. So too we often think about JEsus in certain situations only. The Christmas Jesus, the innocent baby in a manger is the one we want this time of year. But you can’t just have part of JEsus. Jesus didn’t just come for one sin. You get all of Jesus and with all of jesus you get all he did. Martin Luther put it like this in one of His advent messages:
“Jesus helps not against one sin only, but against all my sin; not against my sin only, but against the whole world’s sin. He comes to take away not sickness only, but death; and not my death only, but the whole world’s death.”
And so too Jesus isn’t just a figurine in a mass manufactured manger. He is a born and grown and died and risen lord for you. And so too Jesus isn’t just for the shepherds and the wisemen and the Holy family and the angels and the crowds who stood shoulder to shoulder to see Him coming into Jerusalem. He didn’t just die for the amusement of the soldiers who stood shoulder to shoulder mocking him. He didn’t just rise for the disciples who shoulder to shoulder stood in awe watching him appear and then watching him ascend into the heavens following his resurrection.
No Jesus has come to deliver us. Jesus arrives today to deliver us. He comes to us now gathered shoulder to shoulder to receive all that he is and continues to give. The peace on earth and goodwill to men heralded by the angels to the shepherds is for us now. The crowds on the way into Jerusalem got that part right “Hosanna! Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and gloria in the highest.” You wonder if there’s people in the back of the crowd humming “Glo-oo-ooo-ria in excelsis deo” wondering, “Where did that song come from?”
It came from the angels sent by God to announce the Glory of the coming king. Not a glory that we’d expect but a gory glory that keeps us from a sad ended story. Jesus has come for us and is coming today. And yet we wait for another coming.
Just as he is risen and ascended so too he will come again as he has said. We confess it every week, I believe that he will come again to judge the living and the dead. The beginning of our Gospel lesson is somewhat connected to that confession. In the throw away words at the beginning of our lesson we read: “When he had finished saying these things.” We do well to open our bibles and see what Jesus had just finished saying. It’s another picture of another arrival. It’s not as pretty but it’s just as true.
When Jesus had said these things, these things was a conclusion of a parable about the ten mina managers. We had this gospel reading two weeks ago in our services and we learned about the citizens who hated the master and the unfaithful mina manager who sat on the master’s investment and did not conduct business as he was instructed. These unfaithful enemies of the master are slaughtered in front of the master. They are punished for their rebellious wicked disrespect of the master. So the picture of the last day for those who have no need of the saving Jesus brings.
This thought can be frightening for us. And it should be frightening for us because, we are liable to be slaughtered before the master, or to say it the way Luke 12 did last week we are liable to be cut to pieces and cast to the place of the unfaithful where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth! We have this path in front of us because we live unfaithfully. We live as enemies, not wanting JEsus to rule over our lives. Not wanting him to come into every aspect of our living. KEeping him only for those certain sins and those hard to reach difficulties in life. We forget that Jesus has come for all of us and holding parts of us back from him will have us left without him. He want’s us all and in the end he will have it all, one way or another. We will stand shoulder to shoulder before the judgment seat of the Lord and those who have no need for him will not have him. They will be placed away from him. But for those who cry out, have mercy Lord Jesus, the Spirit has worked a saving faith and the place has been prepared. You don’t have to have Jesus but without Jesus you will be left with nothing. Let him come into your life and do not hinder his coming.
The saving Christ has earned for us is waiting to be fully revealed. In that day. The dead will be raised to life. The lame will walk. The blind will see. We will be with God forever. In the end The deliverance will be forever and unmistakable. And until then, we are blessed with His peace which passes all understanding. This peace brought by the coming one is for us now. The path to hell has been blocked by our Hero the coming one. He has defeated our certain destruction. He has taken all of us onto himself and He alone is the king of our lives. As we live in Him this good news will go forth from us and many will know as we go of the coming King.
God help us for this. In Jesus Name.