Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Advent 3 Mid-week

Lord God, heavenly Father, send forth Your Son, we pray, that he may lead home His bride, the Church, that we will all the redeemed may enter into Your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Isaiah 64:6-7"Oh God, Come!
Introduction: As our text for today opens to us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the exiles who have returned back to their home land are in a desperate situation. Their city and temple are destroyed. All was desolate. Can you relate?
Many today find a serious parallel to our time as well. No, our homes, business and churches might not be sitting in ruins but culturally and socially there are many that would say that we are facing a genuine moral crisis as we enter a new century.
Already there is talk about who will lead us as a nation and the national mid-term election is eleven months away. Many commentators are suggesting that America lacks a leader who can lead us out of despondency and depression.
At the time in which Isaiah wrote these words of our text the people experienced low moral, moral corruption, political confusion, and erosion of natural resources. That was the lay of the land at the time of the prophet Isaiah; and while our times might not mirror the plight of the people back then there are many parallels. But the question that our text asks of us is one that is ageless. That is, in our extremity where do we go? Whom do we seek to help us when our situation is desperate? Isaiah gives us the answer. We cry out to God. We call upon Him to help us. As Isaiah cries to the lord so we call on His also. "Oh God, come…O that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down!" (vs.1)
What is it that we ask of God when we ask Him to come?

{1} First we ask God to come because we need His presence in our lives. Listen to verse 7 of our text; "No one calls on Your name or strives to lay hold of you; for You have hidden Your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins." The parent who disciplines her child might say "look at me!" She does that because it only natural for a guilty party to turn their eyes away from the one who has the power to punish. The people, like the guilty child, had turned their face away from God. In turning their backs on God it was meant to look as if God had turned His back on them.
But the truth of the matter is that God could never turn His back on us. That was an option, and an option that He could have chosen to take had He wanted to. Yet the good news for you and for me is that God has given to us His word and promise of restoring us back to Himself. In the garden the Father spoke to the serpent and said, "I will put enmity between you and the woman between your seed and her seed. He will crust your head and you will bruise His heel" (Genesis 3)
How can we say with so much assurance that God will not abandon His people? We can say that because God the Father abandoned and turned His back on His Son Jesus. At the cross Jesus cried out with a cry that pierced the silence of that lonely Friday afternoon "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" The Father rejected His Son at the cross so that He would never turn His back on us. In this season of Advent we remember that God sent forth His Son to be rejected on our behalf. He can to suffer the greatest humiliation ever so that you and could not and would not face rejection from God. Does it appear that God is distant from you? Well, who has wandered? Who has strayed? Advent calls for us to heed the cry of Isaiah and to turn, to turn back to God in repentance and faith so that we can see the face of the Father and be welcomed by Him when Christ returns in glory.

{2} We also ask God to come for we need His forgiveness. Isaiah reminds us that our sins are as "filthy rags". I’m sure you’ve heard the story but allow me to tell it once again. Would you expect your child to go out to the shop and bring in ten rags that were used as Dad greased the tractor and proceed to use them as napkins for Christmas dinner? Of course not! That’s not appropriate! Well, neither is it appropriate for us to stand before a just and holy God with the grease of sin hanging all over us. We need to be fixed up and cleaned up to meet Him. A Savior has done that for us whose birth we celebrate in four short weeks. Christ came into this world to be our Savior and our Redeemer. He has taken our soiled cloths of sin washed them clean in His own blood. We stand redeemed, restored and forgiven because of the blood of Jesus Christ. In this Advent season He calls us to come to Him in repentance to receive that pardon and peace that we need which only He can give.

{3} We also call for Christ to come because we need deliverance. "Because of our sins…" Isaiah reminds us, "we waste away!" And it’s not because of "burn out" rather it’s because of "rust out!" When we fail to come to Christ for that forgiveness which only He can give we will waste away! We need that deliverance from sin, from death, and from the power and grip of the Devil and only Christ and Christ alone can remove that grip that Satan has. That is why He calls on to come. He calls on us to come to Him to find salvation and life.

Conclusion: Today His mercy calls us to return to Christ and live. He calls us to come to Him in repentance and faith to receive salvation and life. As we prepare during this Advent season may this be our cry; "Redeemer come I open wide, My heart to Thee dear Lord abide! Let me Thine inner presence feel; Thy grace and love in me reveal; Thy Holy Spirit guide us on Until our glorious goal is won. Eternal praise and fame We offer to thy name." {TLH #73 stanza 5}
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 and Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House
Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

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