Child of God, it is high time for you to wake up, to rouse yourself and shake off your sleepiness. Get up and pay attention. Watch and wait upon the Lord, fully alert and constantly vigilant. Open your ears, and open your eyes. Can you not hear? Do you not see?
Now is the appointed time. The Hour is at hand. Today is the Day of Salvation. That is why you are here, and that is what you are here for. There is no other point or purpose. Here is the Lord with His Word and in His Flesh and Blood. He is faithful and just, and He has salvation for you.
Listen to His voice, and consider what He says. Hear the words of His Prophets, and give attention to the doctrine of His Apostles. Heed His preaching of repentance, and receive Him in faith and love. For, behold, your King is coming to you. He is both David’s Son and David’s Lord, and He is here to save you, to redeem you from all evil, and to grant you peace and rest in His Kingdom.
He is not a king like those who rule the nations of the world. His almighty power is manifest in voluntary weakness. He comes not with macho bravado, but with gentle compassion and tender mercy. He rides no mighty stallion, drives no iron chariot, and carries no weapons of war. Meekly mounted on a donkey, He comes with only the Breath of His Mouth, the Sword of His Spirit.
He comes to slay the wicked, that is sure and certain, but He does so by the shedding of His own Blood. He disarms the devil, that enemy of God and man, by sacrificing Himself on the Cross. The Lord Jesus gives Himself as the Propitiation for the sins of the world, to make Atonement for us all, to redeem us from sin, death, and hell, and to reconcile us to His God and Father in heaven.
It is by the way of His Cross that He has come to give Himself as the Ransom for the many, and it is by His Cross that He comes to you now, at this Hour, on this Lord’s Day, within His Church.
This truly is the Lord’s House, the heart and center of His Holy City, the New Jerusalem, on earth even now as it is and ever shall be in heaven. That is because He is here with you with His Word; and by His Word the Fruits of His Cross are distributed here, which are indeed the First Fruits of the New Creation, given and poured out for you and for the many, for the forgiveness of sins.
He has established His Church on earth, and so also on the corner of Milton and Dale right here in South Bend, as a city on a hill, as the highest of the mountains, in order to call and gather the nations to Himself — by the repentance of His Cross and Resurrection, unto the Life everlasting.
Within His Holy Christian Church He catechizes you in His ways — by His Word of the Cross, by His Life-giving Holy Spirit — that you might live and walk in His paths of faith and love.
Therefore, walk properly, as in the day, and not as a nighttime carouser. Put away the works of darkness and all the lusts of your flesh. Put away your pornography, your fornication and adultery. Put away your gluttony and drunkenness. Put away your love of money, your craving for material things, your hunger for entertainment, and every distraction that pulls you away from the needs of your family, friends, and other neighbors, whom the Lord has placed alongside you in this life.
Put away your toys, whatever they may be, whenever they would otherwise prevent you from good works of loving service. And put away all your chasing after pleasure, wherever it would prevent you from prayer. Indeed, put away all the selfish passions of your sinful flesh, that you might live and walk in the light of Christ Jesus. That is to fear, love, and trust in Him above all other gods, and so also to live in love for your neighbors, as Christ the Lord ever lives in His love for you.
The Law of love is simple enough: Do no harm to your neighbor, but help him as you are able. That is to do unto others as your dear Lord Jesus does for you. So, then, dress yourself in Him, adorned with His righteousness by faith. Wear Him on your sleeve, so that all your neighbors round about might see His good works in you and glorify your God and Father in heaven.
Christian disciple of Jesus, the Lord has need of you. Not the “need” of any lack or deficiency on His part, but the need of His grace, mercy, and compassion for you, and for your neighbor, also. He would have you share the burden of His Cross, as He has borne the Cross for you, that you might share His life and His glory — and that you should thus also share His love for others.
Whatever your particular calling and station in life; whatever your age; whether you are still a student in school, actively employed, looking for a job, or living in retirement; whether you are a boy or a girl, a child or adult, married or unmarried — the Lord has good and worthwhile work for you to do. He has a meaningful purpose for your body and life, even if you cannot always see or understand the good that He would do in you. He calls you simply to perform the duties of your place in life — to do so in faith toward Him, and in love toward others — and to be content with whatever He would thus accomplish in you and through you by His grace.
But the Lord Jesus also knows that you are pretty tied up, entangled within yourself and in this world of sin. You were conceived and born in bondage to another lord and master, and by your sinful nature you are frequently ensnared by that dark lord’s enticements and driven by that cruel master’s whip. You cannot set yourself free, nor can you cover up your shame. You are found either naked in your sin or dressed from head to toe in the devil’s prison garb.
So Jesus sends His disciples to loose you from your bonds. He has seen you from afar, He has known you and loved you before you ever knew of Him, and He has sent His men to set you free from the ropes and chains that bind you — from sin, death, and the power of the devil. According to His Word, they find you where you are, tied up outside and useless, and they release you.
To that end the Lord sends two of His disciples, called and ordained to be servants of His Word, to bring you to Himself. At His divine command, they clothe you in the garments of discipleship by the catechesis of His Word and the washing of water with His Word and Spirit in Holy Baptism. They set the Lord Jesus Himself upon you — His sign of the Cross upon your forehead and your heart, His Flesh and Blood upon your body and soul — and so also His forgiveness of your sins.
There are those disciples of the Lord Jesus who thus go before Him, before His face wherever He Himself shall come. And then there are those disciples who follow after Him in faithful service, young and old, from nursing babes and infants to old men and women with grey hairs or balding.
Some are simply swept up in the crowd and carried along after Jesus. Do not underestimate the power of positive peer pressure and the infectious attraction of sincere faith and love.
Your children and grandchildren are watching you, as well as your friends and neighbors, and they observe your enthusiasm for and commitment to the Church and Ministry of the Gospel. If they follow you in curiosity, thank God when they get caught up in the crowd that praises Christ Jesus.
Others may not heed the crowd, be it large or small, but in single-minded devotion they lay down their possessions, their bodies, and their very lives, in the way of the Cross of Christ. Such holy martyrs (of all times and places) are also an example for you, that you might consider what is of real lasting value and importance, as compared to that which is fleeting and fading away.
But it is not by any choice or decision of your own that you become a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor do you enter with Him into His Holy City by any striving or works of your own. For it is not by any righteousness of yours that the Law of the Lord is accomplished and fulfilled.
In truth, your sinful flesh does not possess the faithful heart of a disciple. You cannot choose what is good and right by your fallen reason or mortal strength. Conceived and born in sin, you have no love in you that does not begin with an idolatrous love for yourself. As such, far from fulfilling the Law, you cannot even begin to bear its weighty burdens.
The demands of the Law are simple enough, no doubt; and yet they are impossible for you.
No, it is not you, but Christ the King who has fulfilled the entire Law in His love for you and for all people. It is in that righteousness of His that He has come into His City and to His House, even here and now, having salvation for you, which is yours by His grace through faith in His Word.
This coming (this Advent) of the Lord Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Law, because He comes in selfless love for His neighbor. In the fear, love, and trust of His Father, He comes in love for you and all. He thus enters into His glory, and He becomes your King, by coming in humility and gentle obedience, and by submitting Himself to sacrificial death upon the Cross on your behalf.
He has suffered Himself to be your Beast of burden, who has borne both you and all your sins in His own Body. Your sins He has thus put to death by His Cross; but you He raises from the dead in His own Resurrection by the way and means of His Gospel. Daily He does so, again and again.
This Gospel — which is the Lord’s forgiveness of your sins and His free gift of salvation — this Gospel is the Light of Christ that now shines forth within and from His Church on earth, always from His Cross. For, again, this surely is the Lord’s House in the City of our God, the chief of all the mountains, to which all the nations are called. To which you also are called again today.
It is this call of the Gospel that rouses you and wakes you from your stupor, and raises you up from the sleep of death to the life of God in Christ, in order to live and walk in the way of His Cross.
It is this Light of the Gospel that shines upon your path, enlightening your heart, mind, and spirit, so that you are not swallowed up by the darkness of the devil, the world, and your own sinful flesh. Not that you ever hit your stride perfectly in this valley of the shadow of death, but that your King comes striding in to live and walk beside you, to save you and sustain you with His forgiveness.
The darkness that otherwise reigns within you and all around you is dispersed by the glory of this King and the brightness of His rising, which is the preaching of His righteousness.
For here He comes to you in love, no less so than when He came into Jerusalem to take up His Cross and suffer His Passion. And here He gives Himself to you in perfect peace, so that you might find your Sabbath Rest and your everlasting joy in Him.
He comes to you here in gentleness and meekness, riding the donkey and colt of a chalice and a paten, little more than a simple cup and saucer, but thereby to feed you with His own holy Body and His holy, precious Blood, as the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away all of your sins.
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing, all you sons and daughters of God in Christ, and welcome Him in holy faith and holy love. Lay your old garments aside under His feet, as you are fully clothed and covered by His righteousness and holiness, all by His grace. And hail His gentle mercy toward you by loving one another in His Name, as He calls and gathers you together to be one Body in Him.
Here now, beloved of the Lord, let us walk in the Light of Christ Jesus. Form a procession up to His Altar, and lay hold of Him there. For He is your gracious King, your one true God, your Savior and Redeemer, your benevolent Lord and Master. He is the Son of David, who comes to save you now. Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.