Sunday, November 27, 2011

Homily for Ad Te Levavi (The First Sunday in Advent)

Ad Te Levavi


Matthew 21:1-9; Romans 13:8-14; Jeremiah 23:5-8

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Behold! The King is coming! Behold! The King has come! Behold! The King is coming!

But, when He comes, how does He come? Then, He came in lowliness and humility, scandalously born of a virgin mother in a stable, laid in the animal’s trough. Then, He came in lowliness and humility, riding upon a donkey and her colt. Now He comes in hidden glory under the forms of bread and wine, water and oil, and the proclaimed Gospel Word of God by the lips and the hands of sinful men. Then, He will come in the fullness of God’s power and glory and every eye will see Him and every tongue will confess Him to be the Lord. Then He will be our King in every way imaginable, even as He is our King now, and He will execute justice and righteousness in the land.

The eyes, ears, and the heart of faith recognize the Lord’s coming in all these ways, which is to say, that the faithful recognize the Lord’s Parousia, His presence amongst us, at all times. For, while there are three advents, three distinct comings, there is truly only one Parousia, only one presence. Your Lord Jesus is present with you then, now, and always, just as He has promised to be, even to the end of the age. Thus, this new Church Year begins in the manner the past one ended, with the faithful watching and waiting for His coming, in all the ways that He comes, remaining prepared for His coming by receiving the gifts of His Parousia, His true and abiding presence amongst us.

“O Lord, how shall I meet You,” we sang with Gerhardt and the Church. Indeed, that is our focus and preparation in Advent, to be prepared for the coming of our Lord and to meet Him in all the ways that He comes to us. And, in this mildly penitential season, one way in which we prepare ourselves for our Lord’s coming is by examining ourselves and by confessing our sins. So, we prayed in the Collect, “Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance.”

For, mighty deliverance from the perils of our sins is what Jesus came to bring. And thus, He did not come to bring peace, but a sword. His sword is His Word, the Word of God that proceeds from His mouth and will not return to Him void, a Word of Law that crushes all, and a Word of Gospel which is soothing balm to the repentant and the only source of true hope and comfort. For those who receive Him, He is their righteousness, but for those who reject Him, they are left to be judged by their works according to God’s perfect and holy Law.

But, behold, God has raised Him up, a righteous branch, the only righteous branch and the only source of life. There is no life but to be grafted into Him, and all that are grafted into Him remain in Him, and He in them, and they bear much fruit. And, their fruit is love, the fulfilling of the Law. For, the one who loves another has fulfilled the Law because love does no wrong to a neighbor. Each and every day that passes is an opportunity to draw from the source of life and love Jesus Christ as a branch draws life from the vine and to bear the fruits of love. Drawing life from the Parousia of Jesus now through the means which He offers His grace is what it means to be watchful and waiting in hopeful expectation for His coming as King and Judge. For, each day salvation is nearer to us than it was the day before, or the day when you first believed.

Therefore, do not be offended and scandalized at the humility of His coming. Do not be persuaded by the world, by your flesh, and by your fleshly reason to doubt His presence now, for none who wait for Him shall be put to shame, but they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. They were offended and scandalized by His birth of the Virgin Mary. They were offended and scandalized by the lowliness and the humility of the Bethlehem stable. They were offended and scandalized by His upbringing as the carpenter’s son from backwater Nazareth. They were offended and scandalized by His mercy and compassion to notorious sinners and the unclean. They were offended and scandalized by His suffering, crucifixion, and death. And they tried to cover up, hide, and deny the proof of His resurrection on the third day just as He had said.

But, He has kept every one of His promises. And, God, His Father, has kept every one of His promises. He has come. He comes. And, He is coming. He will not leave you or forsake you. Nothing can separate you from His love which is in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Therefore, let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

To prepare and strengthen you as you await His coming in patient and hopeful expectation, come, now, and receive Him where He is present for you now. For, in this Holy Sacrament, your Lord Jesus is present to enter your mouth and your heart, to commune in and with you, to nourish you His branches that you may be fruitful and full of life and love with which you may be a blessing to your neighbor. Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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