Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Homily for Wednesday of Ad Te Levavi–The First Week of Advent


Isaiah 40:22-30; Jeremiah 23:5-8; Zechariah 9:9-12

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

You have to admit, the Lord’s thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are not our ways. Indeed, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts. And so, we have proclaimed with the Psalmist saying, “The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.” And, we have heard the words of the Prophet, “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the ruler of the earth as emptiness.” Our Lord created all things. He sustains all things. And, He has promised to bring this creation to an end and usher in a new creation. Thus, we might well expect that our Lord would work salvation in like kind, with great power and might in a magnificent display of His deity. But then, the Lord’s thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are not our ways.

For, through generations of men, the Lord prepared us for His coming by remaining faithful and true to the promise He made to our First Parents, the promise that He repeated again and again to Noah, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to Moses, and to all the world, that He would send His Messiah, a King, a Savior to redeem the world from sin and death. And, each generation believed the Messiah would come in their time; indeed, Eve believed her first born son to be her Lord. Yet, though there were types of the Messiah aplenty in figures like Melchizedek, Isaac, and Joseph, the Passover Lamb, the Holy Manna, and the bronze serpent, and the shepherd David, the coming of the true Messiah was delayed. The Lord waited until time was full to send His Son. The Lord waited patiently, mercifully, desiring that all men be saved and none perish. The Lord delayed His coming because His thoughts are not our thoughts; His ways are not our ways. The Lord delayed His coming because the righteous will live by faith, by trust in the Lord’s goodness and mercy, His faithfulness to His Word, trusting not in the might, reason, or emotions of men of flesh.

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Everyone expected the Messiah to be a great and powerful leader and king. Make no mistake about it, the people of each generation thought that they had the man be he Joseph, Moses, Saul, David, or another. Indeed, when Jesus entered Jerusalem on the day we call Palm Sunday, the people were prepared to crown Him their King. They laid down their cloaks before Him and praised Him waving palm branches all the while crying out hosanna, save us! They called Him the Son of David, the great king.

But then, He went on to do the most unkingly things imaginable. He caused a ruckus in the temple courts by turning over the tables of the money changers and casting them out. He brought upon Himself the displeasure and wrath of the religious leadership of the Jews by undermining their teachings and threatening their comfort and power. Then, He permitted to allow Himself to be arrested, instructing His disciples not to draw the sword. He was tried and convicted, scourged and beaten, mocked and spat upon, and then He was crucified and died. God’s ways are not our ways; His thoughts are not our thoughts.

But, isn’t that precisely what the Lord had been teaching us all along? Isn’t that entirely consistent with the ways and thoughts of God? Our Lord’s first promise of the Messiah He issued shortly after man’s fall into sin saying that the seed of the woman would crush the seed of the serpent’s head. The Messiah would be a man, born of woman like all men. God repeated that promise again and again through covenants with Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, up through David and the prophets, right up to the last of the prophets, John the Baptist, to Jesus. Isaiah prophesied that the virgin would conceive and bear a son who would be Immanuel, God with us. And, Malachi prophesied of the one who would precede the coming of the Messiah by preparing His way before Him; that one was John himself who prepared the way for Jesus by baptizing and preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shot aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Didn’t see that one coming? God’s ways are not our ways; His thoughts are not our thoughts. And that is one reason why we take this extra time in Advent to prepare for our annual celebration of Jesus’ birth. It is an opportunity to tune in a little closer and to ponder God’s Word and His wisdom and His promises that He has consistently fulfilled throughout all the generations of men. It’s all there, after all, in His Word. It always has been and it always will be. But, our thoughts and ways are so very different from God’s that, if we don’t pay close attention, we’re likely to chase after the wrong kings, the wrong gods, and ignore, or worse, our God who comes to us humble and lowly, but having righteousness and salvation for the whole world.

Our King has come, the Messiah, Immanuel, Jesus the Christ. He has come in lowliness and humility. He has taken His throne upon the cross. He has been crowned our king with a crown of thorns. And He has served His subjects in righteousness and forgiveness, laying down His life in death for the world. And, still He comes to us in lowliness and humility under the forms of Word, water and oil, bread and wine bestowing the gifts He died to secure for us. And, he is coming again in glory and great power and might that every eye will see and, because of which, every tongue will confess Him Lord and King to rescue us out of this fallen, broken world of sin and death, shame and suffering, and bring us into His eternal kingdom of peace. May we always be prepared for His coming by remaining in His Word and in His gifts where His promises are given and are kept for the life of the world.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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