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First Sunday in Advent

December 1, 2019 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Advent

Passage: Matthew 24:36–24:44

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Matthew 24:36-44
Date: December 1, 2019; Advent 1; Series A
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • Today we begin the season of Advent. 
  • The word “Advent” is from the Latin adventus, which means “coming” - so, it’s a season that’s about the coming of the Lord.
  • Certainly it’s about the anticipation and preparation of the coming of the Lord at Christmas, but it’s also about the coming of the Lord today through his Word and Sacraments, and the coming of the Lord on the Last Day when he will return to judge the living and the dead.
  • This is what our Gospel reading for this morning is about - Jesus is preparing us for his coming, his return, on the Last Day.
  • And our Advent preparations for the Last Day are different than our preparations for Christmas Day.
  • We know when Christmas Day is coming - December 25th.  There is no mystery there - it’s the same date every year.
  • We have an Advent wreath that helps us prepare and build anticipation as we light a candle each Sunday leading up to Christmas Day.
  • Advent calendars can also help us prepare.  
  • I like the ones that have a chocolate treat behind the tiny door marking each day leading up to Christmas.  
  • With each door opened, and chocolate treat enjoyed, we know that Christmas is one day closer.
  • Don’t worry, the Advent calendar tells us today, you have 24 more days to get ready!  
  • But, this isn’t the case when it comes to Christ’s final advent.  
  • [Jesus said:] “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”
  • To drive his point home, Jesus mentions Noah as an example to teach us that there is no chronological certainty when it comes to the Last Day.   
  • It’s going to happen suddenly.
  • In the days of Noah, Jesus said, people were living their normal lives.
  • They were eating and drinking and marrying and going about their business.
  • Just as we do. 
  • We eat, and drink, and marry, and go to work, and watch TV, and have hobbies, and go about our lives too.
  • And there is nothing inherently wrong or sinful with doing any of these things, with living our lives in this world.
  • But our lives today can’t be our entire focus.  
  • We also must focus on, and prepare for, our lives tomorrow.  Our eternal lives.
  • Jesus tells us that we must be ready.
  • He offers the people during Noah’s time as a warning.
  • They were completely unaware of the coming judgment; completely unaware of the coming separation. 
  • Some would be prepared and would be saved. 
  • But, most would be swept away by the waters of the flood and perish.  
  • In an instant, everything they held so dear was swept away, and there was no more time for preparation, no time for repentance, no time for anything. 
  • That is what his second coming will be like, Jesus said. 
  • Whether we are grinding at the mill, or working in the field, or the classroom or office, or watching TV in the living room - Jesus will come suddenly.
  • And, like the people during Noah’s time, we do not know when this will happen. 
  • Jesus provides no calendars with little doors and chocolates to serve as a countdown for his return.
  • But he has given us his Word that tells us to watch for the signs and to prepare ourselves.  
  • In our epistle reading St. Pauls tells us that salvation is nearer now than when we first believed (Romans 13:11-14).
  • Even though we don’t know the exact day and hour, it is true that we are one day closer to the Last Day every day we wake up.
  • But, for God’s people, Jesus’ promise to return is not something for us to fear - it’s a reason to rejoice and celebrate. 
  • Sin and death will come to an end and eternal life filled only with love, and health, and joy will fully begin. 
  • This is our certain future.
  • But for today Jesus warns us to not fall asleep. To stay awake. To be ready.
  • It can be easy for us to grow comfortable and to fall into spiritual inattentiveness and sleep in this present evil age.
  • There are many things to keep us busy and distracted in this life and can cause us to neglect and lose sight of the coming judgment and the coming salvation.
  • As it does each year, Advent wakes us up, and helps us to focus and to be prepared.
  • It alerts us to the seriousness of God’s coming judgment. 
  • Like he did in the flood in Noah’s day, God will judge evil. 
  • But we have the promise of a coming salvation. 
  • Like he did with Noah, God will save his chosen people when he returns.
  • So, as his chosen people we prepare. We stay awake.  
  • We repent of our sin and receive God’s forgiveness.
  • The Holy Spirit works in us and we cast off the works of sin and darkness and we put on the armour of light.
  • We put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and we make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desire.
  • We put on Jesus in our baptism when we were washed clean of our sin and clothed in his righteousness.
  • Now, being clothed in Christ’s righteousness, we walk properly as in the daytime.
  • St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians, “The testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:6–8). 
  • We prepare by being in God’s Word that enables us to be lacking in no gift and that sustains us to the end and declares us guiltless.
  • We live in hopeful expectation, longing for the return of Christ, when “we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). 
  • But we do not have to wait for his presence in our lives. 
  • The kingdom of God is even now in our midst. 
  • He comes to us, with his angels and archangels. 
  • His kingdom is present where his Word is—his Word spoken to you now, “Take, drink, this is my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of all your sins.” 
  • Here, even now, in our very midst, God’s kingdom of grace comes to you
  • Jesus is coming again on the Last Day at an hour we do not expect.
  • Hear the Good News that he is bringing with him peace, and love, and light, and eternal life.
  • Hear the Good News that God has given you the gift of faith that makes you ready for our Lord’s final advent when he will lead us to life everlasting.
  • Christ has prepared us.
  • Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.  Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

More in Advent

December 15, 2019

Third Sunday in Advent

December 8, 2019

Second Sunday in Advent