Advent 1A pm

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Sola Publishing Advent Series "A New Thing"


First Sunday of Advent, Year A

In the name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
So what’s the theme of these lessons? We begin Advent with the
The first lesson reminds us that we must acknowledge our sin and confess it and in doing so hope for mercy from the one we have wronged. In this verse, Shimei, the son of Gera fell down before the king when he had crossed the Jordan. In case you don’t recall this story, here’s what Shimei actually did...
5 When King David came to Bahurim, there came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera, and as he came he cursed continually. 6 And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. 7 And Shimei said as he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! 8 The Lord has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.” (2 Samuel 16:5-8)
So now that David has won over Absalom, Shimei rushes to the new King to repent. In confessing his sin to King David, he received mercy.
King David himself also comes to be in need of mercy and forgiveness. Psalm 51 is David’s confession of his sin against God, and Uriah the husband of Bathsheba. In David’s confession he has also received mercy from God. A clean and contrite heart is all that God wants from us when it comes to repentance. Only God knows the depths of our guilt and the need we have for that word of forgiveness and mercy.
The second lesson is from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. In it he writes of the reality of the human condition, namely, that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” right?
In the Gospel lesson, Jesus has been referred to as “good” by a rich young man, but Jesus reminds those around him that no one is good – no one – except God alone. This one I always find fascinating, the Son of God Himself will only acknowledge the goodness of the Heavenly Father.
So what does all this mean? It means that when we say to ourselves “I’m a pretty good person”… that means we’re in dangerous theological territory. Why do you say that? Who are you trying to convince? Perhaps by worldly standards, you just might be a “pretty good” person. And sure, that’s a good thing. Well, by those same worldly standards.
But we are not called to measure ourselves against the standards of the world. We are called to measure ourselves against the standards given to us by God…the standards that were exemplified in Jesus of Nazareth. And by those standards, well… Romans 3, right? “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
What does that mean? That means that our “pretty good” for the world is simply not good enough for God. We don’t look good enough in God’s eyes, and we never will… not on our own. Not without help. We need a Savior.
This first week of Advent, as we begin our anticipation and preparation for the coming Savior, it will serve us well to remember why a Savior needs to come into the world in the first place. We are sinners after all, broken people who have fallen away from the God who has made us, the God who provides for us, and the God who loves us. We are sinners and we cannot rid ourselves of our sin. We cannot adequately or completely cleanse our soul of the sins we have committed against God, against others, and against ourselves. Nor can we reconcile ourselves with God since God’s holiness cannot tolerate sin. So we are separated from God in a way we cannot fix. Not on our own.
We need a Savior. We need someone to step in and do what we cannot do. This Savior must be someone who is not separated from God, but who is able to step into the very middle of that separation, and close the gap. To bring us back to God, and make it so that God does not see our “falling short” but rather sees us with divine loving eyes.
I’m reminded of what Bishop Selbo told his congregation - where he’d served for 25 years before being called to serve as bishop of the NALC. He told them: “after 25 years of preaching, I hope that the one thing you’ve heard from me is that we all need Jesus.” That sums it up perfectly. We all need a savior. And we have one in Jesus Christ. We all need Jesus.
This Advent season, we look forward to the coming of the Savior. We remember his incarnation when he came to us in the flesh so long ago, but we also look forward to his coming back in victory to set everything right. Advent lets us look for our Savior in both ways. But it starts by acknowledging our dire *need* for this Savior. Thanks be to the God who gave him to us!
Let us pray:
Heavenly, Holy God, you sent your Son Jesus to be light and salvation for the world you love. Grant us confidence to know that you always provide for our deepest felt needs. Help us to discern the difference between what we want and what we actually need. Draw us closer to your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
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