Monday, December 3, 2012

Sermon for 12/2/12

Sermon “Kingly Grace” Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Have you ever met someone outside of the role you expected? Sometimes that person is hard to identify. We expect to see one thing but what we see, what we perceive, is something else. Years ago when I taught for a private school in West Virginia I was spending some time in the summer repairing light fixtures and refreshing the paint in the school building. Being a senior faculty member and the person who was most likely to be around, the school secretary and the headmaster considered me the point man for inquiries. There’s something that seems odd about being sweaty and smudged up from working on dirty old light fixtures and then being called unexpectedly to greet people and consult with them about curriculum. “I thought you were the custodian.” “I am the custodian.” “What do you know about teaching Latin?” “Well, I do that most of the time during the school year.” We’re very quick to look at someone and jump to conclusions. We think we know what kind of leadership to expect when we see a particular kind of person or someone who carries himself in a particular way. Did you know that normally the taller of the main party candidates for President in this country is elected? I guess I’d better give up my aspirations. What kind of a king did the people of Israel look for? What did they expect as their Messiah, their Christ, their anointed one who would come in the name of the LORD? They expected someone who would look kingly. They expected someone who would come with military might, be recognized as the descendant of David, who would overthrow the oppressive enemies like one of the judges or kings of old, and who would establish his reign on the throne. To the disciples Jesus seemed a likely candidate. He had been working miracles. He taught like nobody else taught. Surely he could come into Jerusalem and teach everybody a lesson. Yet how does the Lord, as we read in Jeremiah, “the LORD our righteousness,” enter into the city? He doesn’t put on any royal robes. He doesn’t have a retainer of soldiers. He doesn’t even seem to have a weapon. There are no trumpeters. He rides a donkey, an animal which is a symbol of humility and of peace. And this isn’t even a very good donkey! It’s a donkey nobody has ever ridden. It has no clue what to do with someone sitting on its back. It doesn’t know where to go, when to start, when to stop, it’s a novice. To the casual observer it looks like Jesus is being taken for a ride, and like all the people who are supporting him are being deceived also. Jesus hardly looks like a king as he enters into Jerusalem. Yet we know from Zechariah chapter 9 that Jesus is fulfilling prophecy. He is the king who comes to Jerusalem, humble, riding on a donkey. He is the one who is coming in humility, coming to heal the broken-hearted, to bind up the wounded, to heal the sick, to raise the dead. Wouldn’t you think he would want some sort of special notice for work like that? At least he ought to have a special coat or a gold watch. But Jesus enters Jerusalem, not claiming his own glory. He’ll do that later, when he rises from the dead. For now he lets others proclaim his wonders. What of the opposition? The Pharisees who tell him to stop his disciples? Jesus reminds them that the disciples are right, that Jesus is the king coming in the name of the LORD, that if they stop proclaiming the truth then God can have all nature do it instead. Do we know our Lord comes to us today? Do we remember that when we gather in His name we gather not to bring him something he needs, but to receive from him something we need? Do we remember that he is the king and is present for us, present in the Word, present in the Sacraments, present according to his promises, even though that presence isn’t always visible to those Pharisees around us? Do we remember that Jesus is the one who has come to rescue us? He doesn’t look much like a rescuing, mighty king. But he is the glorious Lord who has come to save us. He may not be the kind of king we were looking for. But he’s exactly the king we need. King of all, thank you for coming to us in humble form, coming to pick us up, coming to rescue us from sin and every evil. Confirm us in your grace. Amen.

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