Come, Lord Jesus!
Pastor Jim Kniseley presented this sermon at Resurrection on December 2, 2012, the first Sunday in Advent. The text for this sermon is 1 Thessalonians 3:12 and 13, “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”
Dear Friends in Christ,
The word “maranatha” appears in the next to the last sentence of the entire Bible. “Maranatha” is a Greek word that means “come, Lord Jesus.” I tell you this because it sure seems to me that today, on this first Sunday in the church calendar, on the first Sunday in Advent, “maranatha” beautifully sums up the entire message of today’s worship: “Come, Lord Jesus!”
This faith community recognizes the coming of Jesus in 3 ways:
1. We know that Jesus came the first time as the baby born in Bethlehem, as our
stable here suggests. It is our firm belief that Jesus has come into this world.
2. We also believe that Jesus will come again someday at the end of earthly time to usher in his eternal kingdom. That is what our gospel lesson today is pointing us toward.
3. And we believe that Jesus comes even now to us in a way that is life-fulfilling, though sometimes a bit of a mystery to us. He comes to us in the preaching and teaching of his Holy Word and in the sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion in which he promises to be present for us.
I like the Candle Song that Amy Burcher chose for us to sing today as the first candle on the advent wreath was lit. This song helps us remember the first coming of Jesus: Let there be light, Let it shine bright, Piercing the darkness with dazzling white. Hope for the hopeless was born on that night When God will send his son and say let there be light.
What I like about that song is that it expands our minds to consider other ways in which Jesus comes into this world. We believe that Jesus came into the world as the light of the world back then. And, we believe that Jesus still comes into the world through us each time we bring the good news of God’s love to the hopeless, and whenever we dare to pierce the darkness of this world with God’s goodness and love.
I invite us to look now for evidence that folks in this faith community are bringing good news to the hopeless and piercing the darkness of this world with God’s love and goodness. How about turning to the back section of your bulletin and see what ways Resurrection folks are keeping the light going. I was hungry and you fed me! tells us that Pam Steinkoenig, Jennifer, Laura and Scott Phoebus, and Tammy and Chris Campbell will be cooking at the Brisben Shelter next Sunday and many here are contributing food. Scouting for Food Project tells us that the food goods listed there will be distributed to people in need through our Angel Tree Project, to the Christ Lutheran Food Pantry and Hope House. November/December Food of the Month tells us what food we can provide for the Christ Lutheran Food Pantry. Scarbeck Project tells us of the many items that are being collected by our congregation for Lutheran Churches in New York that were hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. We know that our youth are partnering with the Scarbeck family to make this happen. The evidence of people in this congregation stepping up to help people in unselfish ways is commendable and a great way to let the light of Jesus shine in the darkness of this world.
So, Resurrection people, on this first Sunday of Advent, (1) we have lit one candle for our preparation for the coming of Jesus at Christmas, (2) we are admonished to prepare our hearts and minds to meet the gracious Jesus at the end of our life, and (3) we receive Jesus today in many ways, including the preaching and teaching of his word, in the sacraments, and whenever we dare to pierce the darkness of this world with his light and love.