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First Sunday in Advent

November 29, 2020 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Advent

Passage: Mark 11:1–11:10

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Mark 11:1-10
Date: November 29th, 2020; Advent 1; Series B
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • Today is the beginning of another Church Year and it is the beginning of the season of Advent.  
  • The Church Year has three main parts to it: the time of Christmas; the time of Easter; and, the time of the church.  
  • And within the time of Christmas are three seasons: the time of anticipation and preparation called Advent; Christmas itself when we celebrate the Word becoming flesh; and, Epiphany when we celebrate the revelation of Christ Jesus to the world.     
  • The Gospel lesson for this First Sunday in Advent is the account of Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem – it’s the same Gospel lesson we hear on Palm Sunday.   
  • A good question to ask - is why has the church assigned this reading for today?  
  • This is an account of an event that happened just one week before Easter.  
  • Shouldn't we be reading about this during the time of Easter and not during the time of Christmas?  
  • Well, this account of Jesus humbly making his way into Jerusalem on a donkey provides important context for us as we prepare for Jesus humbly making his way into this world by being born of a Virgin.
  • It helps us to stay focused on why God took on human flesh.
  • It gives Christmas its true meaning and lasting value.
  • During the season of Advent we hear of the time leading up to Jesus’ birth and we become filled with anticipation for our Lord’s coming into this world.  
  • But first we fast forward from the anticipation of Jesus’ birth - to his entrance into Jerusalem to be the sacrifice for all sinners.  
  • This is why Jesus became man and entered into this world.
  • Not to become a cute baby that fills us with warmth every time we look at a nativity scene.  
  • Not to become a spiritual leader who fills us with wisdom so that we can find the path to happiness.  
  • Not to be an example for us, so that we can learn how to be good and earn our way to heaven.
  • No, our Lord left heaven to be born of a Virgin so that he could fulfill God’s plan of salvation.  
  • The plan of salvation that God proclaimed the very moment that we fell into sin.  
  • The plan of salvation that the prophets of the Old Testament proclaimed to generation after generation.   
  • Advent helps us to keep our focus on this Good News.
  • The Son of God had to become the Son of Man in order to save us from our sin.  
  • It is our sin that placed Jesus in the manger just as much as it was our sin that nailed him to the cross.  
  • Mary's miracle pregnancy and Christ's birth were but the beginning steps on the road to that cross. 
  • Today's Gospel reading is at the other end of that road.  
  • We get a glimpse of the ending before we begin.  
  • We see the Advent theme of anticipation as Jesus enters Jerusalem.    
  • He comes in humility and meekness - yet he is King.
  • Here Jesus embodies the announcement of the prophet Zechariah: “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation.”
  • He comes into Jerusalem, the city of the temple—the place of sacrifice—to suffer and die as God’s ultimate Passover Lamb.  
  • To suffer and die as God’s ultimate and final sacrifice for the sins of the entire world.
  • Here is a King like no other, this King comes not in royal splendor or with military might, but in the humility of the Servant who embraces the cross for your sin. 
  • We see the fulfillment of the Advent theme of hope and rescue as God's sacrificial Lamb enters the holy city.
  • And as we prepare ourselves for the coming of our Saviour during this Advent season - we remember that Jesus still comes to us today.  
  • Your King comes to you today, no longer on a borrowed donkey, but with his Word and Sacraments.
  • The historic events of Jesus birth, perfect life, death on the cross, and resurrection from the grave, is not simply something that happened in the past that we now read about and find interesting.  
  • No, through that historic event God forgives our sins and promises us eternal life.  
  • He continues to act in history, in our lives, today.  
  • Reading, hearing, learning God’s Word might not look like much - but through it our faith is kindled and strengthened.  
  • Through God’s Word we are made wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15).
  • He comes to us in the humble waters of our Baptism. 
  • He comes to us through the bread and wine of Holy Communion, through which he gives to us his true body and true blood.
  • He comes to us in the words of forgiveness spoken through the pastor in Holy Absolution.
  • In such humble and lowly means - his Word, water, bread and wine, a poor miserable sinner standing before you speaking his words of forgiveness - God delivers to us all that Christ Jesus accomplished for the world.
  • Through these means of grace we are led to faithfully confess, “The Lord is our righteousness” (Jeremiah 33:16).
  • Through these means of grace, the Lord makes us increase and abound in love for one another and he establishes our hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father.
  • As we contemplate, and anticipate, the coming of our Lord by being born of a Virgin, we know that he continues to come to us today.  
  • We know that he is present, working in our lives.   
  • He comes into our lives today and gives us peace in the midst of chaos.  
  • He gives us hope in the midst of our despair.  
  • He gives us comfort in the midst of uncertainty.
  • He gives us life in the midst of death.
  • This Advent season we focus on our Lord who was born in Bethlehem to later die on a cross to save the world - to save you. 
  • We wait for the revealing of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who will sustain us to the end. Thanks be to God! Amen.
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The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

More in Advent

December 20, 2020

Fourth Sunday in Advent

December 16, 2020

Midweek Advent Service

December 13, 2020

Third Sunday in Advent