The First Sunday in Advent
November 29, 2015
1 Thessalonians 3:9–13
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today we enter the season of Advent. During these days, we wait with the saints of old. The days are coming when the Righteous Branch shall spring up. We hope with the persecuted church on earth. The time is approaching when the King shall return to execute justice on the nations.
Today we begin a new liturgical year. During these days we realize that this might be our last year together. We do not know if we have one more year or ten. This might be our last day together. We do not know when the Last Day will begin. This might be our last hour together. We do not know at what hour the Lord will come again. Does this make a difference to you? How would you live your life if you only had one year left? What about one day? What about one hour?
Today we start with a New Year’s resolution. Let us pledge ourselves to increase and abound. I do not mean with foods like on Thanksgiving Day in which we increase and abound in our waists. I do not mean with goods like on Black Friday in which we increase and abound in our storage units. Rather, let us pledge ourselves to increase and abound in love. Increase and abound in love for each other. Increase and abound in love for all.
Listen to the blessing from the mouth of blessed Paul, “may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints” (1 Thessalonians 3:12–13).
Let us watch with all His saints and sing, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Christ is building a kingdom of justice and righteousness. He is the Stone that was rejected by the builders. He is forming His Kingdom with stones that cry out. Such stones begin to rejoice and praise Him for all His mighty works. Such stones recall what He says and remember what He does.
If you do not want to hear His words or see His miracles… …If you do not hunger and thirst for His righteousness like the Pharisees of old… If you want to be your own king… …then be warned. He will find other stones that cry out.
While you watch, look and see where you are increasing and abounding: each hour, each day, each year. Do you really even desire to increase and abound in love? Do you really even want to love one another and others even more? Are you increasing and abounding in love? Are you increasing and abounding in hatred for one another and others? If you cannot love those whom you can see, how can you love God whom you cannot?
How does one increase and abound in love?
First, increase and abound in hearing God’s Word. The LORD instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right. God teaches the humble His way.
Second, increase and abound in confessing your sins for they are many. Your guilt is great. When you review the last year of your life, recall your sins. When you review the last day of your life, recall your transgressions. When you review the last hour of your life, recall your iniquities.
Third, increase and abound in confessing your Savior for He is merciful. Where the acknowledgement of sin increases, the grace of the Lord abounds all the more. For the sake of Christ, your sins are not remembered. For the sake of Christ, your transgressions are pardoned. For the sake of Christ, your iniquities are removed.
Fourth, increase and abound in receiving the love of God for His love never ceases. Christ is the Love of God in the flesh. It is in Christ alone, that your heart is established as blameless in holiness. It is in Christ alone, that you are declared to be a beloved of God.
Every Sunday in Advent, He supplies what is lacking in our faith. We are learning to wait for Him. In the Divine Liturgy, the Righteous Branch comes to us each week when we hear what He says and see what He does. As His people, we are called by His name, “Yahweh our Righteousness.” He declares us righteous through faith alone. In the Divine Liturgy the King comes to execute justice and righteousness in word and sacrament. For this reason, we sing with the saints in Jerusalem gathered on the first Palm Sunday. Right before the words of institution we sing,
Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is He, blessed is He, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest
Each Sunday, The stones cry out saying, “Hosanna! Save us please!” In the Divine Liturgy the Son of David comes to us vocally and visually. In Christ, heavenly Jerusalem will rest securely. In Christ, believing Judah will be saved. Amen.
Rev. Brian L. Kachelmeier
Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church
Los Alamos, NM