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Lindemann on Advent 2

by revalkorn ~ November 29th, 2010

THE SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT

This Sunday completes the Advent Cycle. The message of the First Sunday was: “Your King is coming! Prepare!” The Propers spoke of His visible coming to Jerusalem in humility and meekness, on His way to the Cross. This was a picture of His Constant Coming in His Word and Sacrament, invisible, without outward glory and power. The message of the Second Sunday is: “Your King is coming again, visibly and in power and glory, to deliver His own from all evil!” It is a message of encouragement and hope.

The Introit. “Daughter of Zion, behold, thy salvation cometh. The Lord shall cause His glorious voice to be heard, and ye shall have gladness of heart. Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock.”

Many ignore and reject the Lord now, but the day is coming when His majestic voice will fill His enemies with terror. However, this is not the heart of today’s message. The teaching of the day is addressed to the faithful. “Behold, thy salvation cometh!” You shall be delivered from your enemies. All who receive the King as He comes to His Zion in Word and Sacrament, all who remain faithful until the end shall then have gladness of heart. The Psalm Verse will be more readily understood in the light of the fact that originally the entire Psalm, in this instance Psalm 80, was chanted. “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou who leadest Joseph like a flock! Thou who art enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh! Stir up Thy might, and come to save us! Restore us, O God; let Thy face shine, that we may be saved!”

The Collect. “Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Thine Only-begotten Son, so that by His coming we may be enabled to serve Thee with pure minds.”

We can no longer make ready for the First Advent. This lies in the past. But our Lord’s First Advent is a picture of the Constant Coming to His Church in Word and Sacrament. This is the Connection established by the Collect between the commemoration of the First Coming in lowliness and the Second Advent in Glory. All gladness of heart at the prospect of the King’s Coming in Glory is possible only if His First and His Constant Coming enable us to serve Him with pure minds.

The Epistle (Rom. 15:4-13). “Thy salvation cometh!” “Ye shall have gladness of heart.” “Stir up our hearts that we may be enabled to serve Thee with pure minds.” The Lord promised to save and deliver us at His Second Coming. As we wait and longingly look for His appearance, we might grow weary and discouraged. “That by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” When St. Paul speaks of hope, he means unquestioning confidence and certain conviction. The Old Testament was written to instill and maintain hope in the hearts of the waiting believers, Jews and Gentiles. It is a book of hope. Its very object was to kindle and keep alive hope. Its covenants all pointed to a better covenant, its sacrifices to a more availing sacrifice that could take away sin, its prophecies to a better dispensation in the dim future. It is a record of men who trusted God’s promises and were not disappointed. These Scriptures were written for our learning.

The Gradual. “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Our God shall come. Gather My saints together unto Me, those that have a covenant with Me by sacrifice. Alleluia! Alleluia! The powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Alleluia!”

The unity of thought with the other Propers becomes even clearer from the context in the Revised Standard Version, Psalm 50:1-5: “The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. Our God comes, He does not keep silence, before Him is a devouring fire, round about Him a mighty tempest. He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that He may judge His people: Gather Me My faithful ones, who made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” In the Epistle, St. Paul writes: “May the God of steadfastness 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.” The Gradual of the Common Service Book echoes this: “I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord! Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.” In the house of the Lord the faithful are gathered together in harmony with one another and in accord with Christ Jesus and together with one voice glorify God. This thought appears to be more in harmony with the spirit of the day than the statement that the people, fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world, will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

The Proper Sentence, “Alleluia! Remember, O Lord, Thy tender mercies; for they have been ever of old. Alleluia!”

The Gospel (St. Luke 21:25-36). The teaching of the day centers here, in our Lord’s own prophecy concerning His Second Coming. The days of sin and trial, of time and the world, will end in victory and complete restoration. Our Lord is here speaking to His own, to cheer and encourage the faithful. They will suffer persecution, “but not a hair of your head will perish.” By their endurance they will gain their lives. Terrifying things will be upon the earth, and faithless men will faint with fear and foreboding. But when these things begin to take place, look up, and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” The Holy Gospel contains the New Testament message of hope and is to impress on us our great duty to prepare for the final Advent.

The Proper Preface. “Whose way John the Baptist prepared, proclaiming Him the Messiah, the very Lamb of God, and calling sinners to repentance that they might escape from the wrath to be revealed when He cometh again in glory.”

OUTLINE FOR SERMON ON THE EPISTLE
The Old Testament a Book of Hope

A. Christ came to fulfill all the hopes of the Jews, “to confirm the promises given the patriarchs,” and to set His seal on all the promises of the Old Testament. “A servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness,” with a special mission to the Jews. They hoped for the Messiah, and Christ came to show that this hope was not mistaken. As Prophet, Priest, and King He fulfilled all that God had promised.

B. A Book of Hope for the Gentiles. Many promises to the Gentiles were scattered through the Old Testament. Christ came to fulfill these and open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers. These promises are apparently alien to Jewish exclusiveness, yet necessary to prepare the way for the rule of the Root of Jesse.

C. A Book of Hope for Us. The Old Testament still has a message of hope. In our own trials and difficulties we may turn to the example of those who in darker days remained faithful to the God of Hope and were not disappointed. We may draw lessons of patience and comfort. First patience, then comfort, then hope, and finally something higher still, “joy and peace in believing.” St. Paul also refers to ‘ the mode of remaining steadfast and strong: harmony with one another.

OUTLINE FOR SERMON ON THE HOLY GOSPEL
A New Testament Message of Hope

A. A World in Despair. Without Christ the course of this world is without hope. There will be distress, perplexity, fear and foreboding. All who have not learned to love Christ will always dread His appearing.

B. The Christian Hope. That which will make unbelievers fear will inspire the believer with eager hope. He will look up and raise his head in eager, joyful expectation as he sees redemption drawing near. He will know that the storms sweeping over the world are the gales that usher in the spring and summertime of God’s Kingdom and the perfect sunshine of Christ’s presence.

C. The Certainty of the Christian Hope. It is as sure as the sure Word of Christ. All else shall pass away, but Christ’s words never. Each generation shall find them true. The Bible is a book of calm confidence. It sees the worst and yet assures of the best, looking toward the Kingdom that cannot be shaken, full of faith in Him who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” From cover to cover the Bible is a book of hope and the Book of the God of Hope.

THE HOLY COMMUNION

The Lord’s Supper assumes unusual significance on this day. The words of the Preface “when He cometh again in glory” once more bring to mind the day’s lesson regarding the Second Advent. We remember that when on Maundy Thursday our Lord sat at table, and the Apostles with Him, He said: “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He said: “Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” The Church never forgot that as her Lord said farewell in the Upper Room, He looked longingly down the centuries to the moment when He would be reunited with His beloved at His Second Advent. The thought of His return must have been uppermost in His mind that night, for all four accounts of the Institution bring some reference to it. St. Paul wrote that by eating and drinking “you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” That the last banquet of the Son of God on earth should be connected with the Messianic Banquet in heaven was inevitable. The first liturgical prayer the worshiping Church addressed to her Exalted Christ was “Come, Lord Jesus!” In the earliest Liturgy the celebrant says, “May Grace come and this world pass away.” With “Grace” is meant the Lord Jesus. The congregation responds, “Hosanna to the God of David.” Again the celebrant: “If any be holy, let him come; if he be not, let him repent. Maranatha!” The Lord is coming. If any is a baptized believer, let him come to the Holy Communion with his Lord. If not, let him first become a Christian. The Lord is coming, here in the Holy Sacrament and again at the end of the world.

Down the ages the Church has always connected the invisible Coming in the Holy Communion with the visible Advent in Glory, the Supper in the Upper Room with the Great Marriage Supper in heaven, the Coming to His Bride in the Holy Sacrament with the Coming of the Bridegroom to take her home. The Lord’s Supper bridges the time between our Lord’s days on earth and His return in glory. At His Table we enter upon timelessness. Time and eternity meet. The thoughts of the communicant move between two high points, the Last Supper on earth and the first and eternal supper in the Kingdom of God. Just where along the way between these two points he happens to commune with his Lord in the Holy Sacrament is of no consequence. Every Celebration is a repetition of the first and an anticipation of the last.

The Lord’s Supper is the Bread of Pilgrims, the sustenance on the way through this world to the Kingdom of God, the sustaining, strengthening food on the way from time to eternity, from here to yonder. The believers eat as Israel, girded and ready, ate the Passover in Egypt, ate and hurried away. Elijah found food under the broom tree, “ate and drank and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.” So the believer eats and drinks food prepared by God in the Holy Sacrament and is strengthened on his journey to the Mount of God.

In the Celebration we lift our hearts far above this poor earth to the throne of Him who died and lives for evermore. Yes, Christ will come to us according to His promise. He is present in heaven, and before Him all angels and saints sing praises. We lift our hearts unto the Lord and join the heavenly choir in the hymn that came to us from heaven: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of the Angels! Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory.” Enraptured, the pilgrims find themselves in the heavenly company. The Lord Jesus comes in His Word of promise, communes with them, unites Himself with them, live in and with them. He companies with them once more. He will come to take them home. Yes, He will come! Even now His Presence is not a matter of distance but only of seeing what the eyes of faith always behold.

So the faithful pilgrims celebrate the Lord’s death. So they keep alive and strengthen the hope that is in them. So they join the saints of all ages in the prayer of unshakable hope, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! Maranatha!” and proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

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