Sunday, December 8, 2013
Homily for Populus Zion (The Second Sunday of Advent)
Luke 21:25-36; Romans 15:4-13; Malachi 4:1-6
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
“Daughter of Zion, behold, your salvation comes!” But, what does that mean? What does salvation look like? How will salvation change how you live your lives from day to day? Those are good questions, for your lives will be indeed be changed. When your salvation comes, it will be like when Mom and Dad get home and turn the lights on in the basement where their kids and other teenagers have been partying while they were away. Whatever was going on will be exposed! There will be no time to cover up or clean up. Whatchya got is whatchya see. When your salvation comes, it will be like turning on the lights in a dark and filthy kitchen; the cockroaches will run for cover, but it will be too late – they will have been seen for what they are, dirty, disease carrying vermin.
This is what it will be like, for the day of your salvation is a day of judgment, for you and for everyone else. There is no escaping it, just as there can be no darkness where the light shines brightly. Yet, you need not be afraid of that day. For, “though the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble,” for you who fear, love, and trust in the Lord, “the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.” Thus, the day of salvation, the day of judgment, will prove to be a very good day for you. Therefore, lift up your heads, for “you shall have gladness of heart.”
Yet still, you fear change. So do I. Indeed, all people do. You fear change because you have made idols of worldly and fleshly things: money, possessions, family, power, health, reputation, etc. You don’t want these things to change. You fear these things changing because you have placed your fear, love, and trust in them over and above, or in place of, the Lord. In some very real ways, you believe that they define you, they make you who you are. But, they do not last, and you know that to be true. You see the material things you own break, rust, and decay, become outdated and obsolete. You see and feel your own bodies become weak and frail; you don’t see as well, hear as well, or look as well as you used to; you are dying, a little more each day. You see your children age and marry and have children, and often move away, sometimes far away. But these things don’t define you. They don’t make you who you are. You came into this life having none of them. If you leave life without them, that doesn’t change who you are.
Then, who are you? You are the people, the Daughter of Zion, the New Israel, born from the side of the True Israel, God’s Son, Jesus Christ. It is to you that the LORD says the day of judgment will be a day of great joy for you! However, that does not mean that you will be left unscathed. No, not at all. You will be changed as all the idols you have oft placed your fear, love, and trust in are destroyed. Then the hearts of fathers will be turned to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers, for that most fundamental reality of your lives, the very source and origin of your lives, imperfect and corrupted by sin as it may be, and the imperfect love and faithfulness which accompany it, will be seen as an image of the perfect, holy, and righteous source and origin of all of your lives and the perfect and holy love and faithfulness of God, your Father and Lord.
This is a call to repentance uttered from the mouthpiece of God, John the Baptist. The LORD promised that he, Elijah, would come before this great and awesome day of the LORD. But, that was nearly two thousand years ago, you say? Yes, it was – for that was when the day of the LORD occurred, in Jesus’ crucifixion and death upon the cross. That was when the Light switch was turned on and the darkness of sin and death were scattered and overcome. That was the day of judgment, when Jesus was judged guilty in your place. That was the day when it was promised and guaranteed that the ways of the arrogant and evildoers will not last, that they will be left with neither root nor branch. That was the day when the Lord began to make all things new – the ushering in of a new first day of the new creation. That was the day that everything changed. The world has changed. Your life has changed. And, this change is good and nothing to fear.
One of the first things to be changed was how you relate to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, and to your neighbor in the world. Your heart is to be turned to your Father, and your children’s to their Father. Jesus introduced this new understanding of family in His last words to His mother and His disciple John: “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” In those words, Jesus created a new family. Though John was not a true son of Mary, he became her adopted son. In the same way, you have been adopted into the family of Jesus Christ. Jesus had taught in this way throughout His ministry saying, “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Look at one another. This is your family. This is your true family. Yes, You were born into a family according to the flesh. Nevertheless, here is the family God has adopted you to be a part of. You are the people of Zion, the Daughter of Zion, the children of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
Daughter of Zion, behold, your salvation has come! Your salvation comes! And, your salvation is coming! The day of judgment has come for you, and you have been judged innocent in Jesus Christ. Therefore, you have a new family and a new life, and you need not live in fear of change or loss or of the Last Day when your King returns. “For whatever was written in former days was written for your instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures you might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Even now you are free to “go out leaping like calves from the stall” and to “tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet.” You are free from living like those who have no hope. You are free from the slavery of idolatry to the worldly and fleshly things the godless covet. The kingdom of God has come, it is near you now, and it is coming soon in it’s fullness, power, glory, and might. Its reign is mercy, forgiveness, grace, and love. It reigns upon you, it reigns to you, and it reigns through you into the lives of your brother, your sister, and your neighbor to the glory of God in Christ Jesus. Your Lord Jesus is the sun of righteousness, and His reigning scatters the darkness of sin and death, while it brings healing in its wings to the children of God.
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.