First Sunday in Advent 02 December 2018 A.D.

                                      First Sunday in Advent       02 December 2018 A.D.

                                                        Holy Communion

              The Epistle: Romans 13:8-14                       The Gospel: Mt 21:1-13


                         Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away
                         the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light,
                        now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ
                        came to visit us in great humility, that in the last day, when he shall
                        come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, 
                        we may rise to life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with
                        thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever.                         Amen
  Isn’t it interesting how God uses nature to teach us lessons and show us examples that are reflected in His holy word?  Seasons, cycles of life, light, darkness; all are part of our yearly journey around the sun, and yet we can be so blind to the lessons that are placed before us to ponder and understand.   “...The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handy-work.  Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard...”    These opening verses of Psalm 19 give us the ‘blueprint’ of God’s majestic work as we stand here below and observe the great panorama of creation at work.  Wow. We must take the time to “be still and know that [He] is LORD”.

 As we approach the shortest days of the year we can visibly notice the days gathering in. Every morning it is a little darker than the day before, every evening the sun goes down a few minutes earlier. The collect for the first Sunday in Advent and the epistle for today both reference this darkness, now in a similar way. Yes, it is darker than say September, yes it is definitely darker than in June, but yet in this time of less light there is hope. The hope that comes with the days getting longer, not too many days after Christmas. We can see that it is getting lighter each morning and after a fashion, each evening. 

 This darkness is to be cast away, we are to put on the ‘armor of light’. We are to ‘cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Why ? Because the night is far spent, it is over, day is at hand. The coming of Messiah is at hand. Notice how in the passage from Romans Paul writes that it is time to show our love to our neighbors, because love is the fulfilling of the law. Not by our efforts, but because the Son of God has come to fulfill the law, the shedding of his blood will cover all the sins of the world. His death on the cross, his burial, resurrection will ensure our salvation. Because he has conquered death, he has over come the grave.

9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

10 Love  worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

  Notice in verse 9 Paul gives a review of the decalogue, just in case we forgot. But then he continues the love theme, brought to earth by the Son of God, in pointing our the sum total of the law is to love thy neighbor as thyself. Verse ten makes this clear; love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Don’t we read this very theme in the service of Holy Communion ?  Why do you think this is reviewed every time we feed upon the elements of the holy supper ? Because it is hard loving our fellow men. We can always find something wrong with others. We can always find a reason to not like someone, an annoying habit, their choice of friends, politics or something else. I think we see this theme reiterated over and over again to show us the truly divine gift that God gave us. 
Humans can be so evil, so nasty, so traitorous, and YET God still reached down through the ages and offers us salvation. If salvation of mankind was left up to us, very few would be given the opportunity to seek God’s face. We would be so evil and mean spirited. We’d put so many conditions in the way.  Instead, God asks us to repent, turn from our wicked ways and be saved. Call upon the NAME by which all are saved. Call upon the savior Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.
  Now comes the role of the believers. You always know that there is a responsibility that is placed on those of us who follow Christ. So what are we to do ?  The last three verses of this passage from the letter to the Romans gives us a clue. 

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.  Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.  But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

First; we are to notice the night is coming to an end, that meaning that evil will not prevail we have hope of the light of the coming day. In this hope we are to cast off the works of darkness AND put on the armor of light.

Second; we are to walk honestly; in broad daylight, not in riotous living, drunkenness, not messing around with people who aren’t our spouses, no strife or envying.

Lastly; we are to put on the Lord Jesus Christ; avoiding the provisions of the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. By putting on Christ as a shield, we can avoid the drag of the world, we can strive to show that we are different than the world of darkness. We can reach the world by showing that we are different. People will notice. Then they will ask, then you have the opportunity to share your faith, your hope, your Lord and his salvation. 

 Let us go forth and do likewise.

Let us pray:

O God, who hast made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the whole earth, and didst send thy blessed Son to preach peace to them that are far off and to them that are nigh; Grant that all men everywhere may see after thee and find thee.  Bring the nations into thy fold, pour out thy Spirit upon all flesh, and hasten thy kingdom; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.    Amen.

O Almighty God, look mercifully upon the world which though hast redeemed by the blood of thy dear Son, and incline the hearts of many to dedicate themselves to the sacred Ministry of thy Church; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.    Amen

  O God, who makest us glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of thy Son our Lord; Vouchsafe us this day such blessing through our worship of thee, that the days to come be spent in thy service; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.              Amen.

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