Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sermon for 12/8/13 "Prepare the Way of the Lord"

Matthew 3

Prepare the way
That means, “Get ready. The King is coming.”
Job once, long ago, working in the office of a college development director.
 person responsible to bring in large amounts of money
 create positive image for the organization
 can make or break the future of the college, regardless of academics
My job was to prepare the way. The offices had been gutted. Rubble from old walls, broken things all around, filthy place, dust mask required

Get ready.
 get rid of the trash
 clear out the rubble
 Salvage? Maybe, but not much
 trees that are not bearing fruit are cut down and burned
 chaff is swept away from the threshing floor - burns very fast
 husks, weeds, rubble - everything that isn’t fastened down - it goes

We shoveled plaster, wires, wood, old blinds, broken glass into trash cans, removed it to dumpsters, had those removed to the landfill - all to ruin.

Was it time for the development director to move in?

Another crew came in, several crews - fresh paint, new light fixtures, carpet, windows, decorations - a new scene without chaos and destruction

Where do we stand in this time of Advent, the time of preparation for the coming king?
 no depending on history “we always did…”
 no depending on heritage “my parents were, I used to be…”
 no depending on current situation “always in church, try to be a good person…”

All our goodness, all our righteousness - it’s chaff, goodness mixed with sin, good for burning

What will we do? Absolutely nothing. It’s all our striving and trying that gets us into the fix of the Pharisees and Saducees, the people who would be looked up to, the religious elite.

We bring nothing to the bargaining table. We bring nothing but a need for forgiveness and restoration.

John baptized for repentance. Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. We look to Jesus.

bringing judgment and destruction
bringing healing and restoration

He will take us, broken, rebellious, toxic, and wash us. He will cleanse us to be useful to him. And he will give us the message, the same message of the Gospel which has been since Genesis chapter 3, that sin will be judged in the Son of Man, Jesus, our Lord.

Jesus alone will come to present us to the Father without fault, blameless, by taking the blame and guilt we deserve upon himself. He receives our scorn and death so we can receive his life and hope. We are found in him.

Lord Jesus, cleanse us, your people, and use us as your servants, bringing your peace, life and hope in this world of darkness. Come to deliver us.
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

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