The Second Sunday in Advent

December 6, 2020

 

SERVICE OF THE WORD

This service offers the congregation a form of worship that focuses on the proclamation of God’s Word.  Believers respond to this divine gift with prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.  The service begins on page 38 in the front of the hymnal.

 

M:       We worship today in the name of our Triune God— God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

C:        Amen

Confession of Sins

M:       We have come into the presence of God, who created us to love and serve Him as His dear children.  But we have disobeyed Him and deserve only His wrath and punishment.  Therefore, let us confess our sins to Him and plead for His mercy.

C:        Merciful Father in heaven, I am altogether sinful from birth.  In countless ways I have sinned against you and do not deserve to be called your child.  But trusting in Jesus, my Savior, I pray:  Have mercy on me according to your unfailing love.  Cleanse me from my sin, and take away my guilt.

M:       God, our heavenly Father has forgiven all your sins.  By the perfect life and innocent death of our Lord Jesus Christ, He has removed your guilt forever.  You are His own dear child.  May God give you strength to live according to His will.

C:        Amen.

Prayer and Praise

M:       In the peace of forgiveness, let us praise the Lord.

C:        Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.  Blessed are they who take refuge in Him.  Your Word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.  Your faithfulness continues forever.  Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.  Blessed are they who take refuge in Him.

PRAYER OF THE DAY

M:       Let us pray.

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the way for your only Son.  By His coming give us strength in our conflicts and shed light on our path through the darkness of this world; we ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C:     Amen

The Word

FIRST LESSON – Isaiah 40:1-11

The prophet records the sternness and the comfort of God’s Law and Gospel.  He anticipates the coming and work of John the Baptist, who will prepare the hearts of God’s people for the Messiah Savior.

 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.  A voice of one calling:  “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD, make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.  And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.  For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”  A voice says, “Cry out.”  And I said, “What shall I cry?”  All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.  The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them.  Surely the people are grass.  The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”  You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain.  You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”  See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him.  See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.  He tends his flock like a shepherd:  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.  (NIV1984)

PSALM OF THE DAY – Psalm 85

 You showed favor to Your land, O LORD;

You restored the fortunes of Jacob.

You forgave the iniquity of Your people

and covered all their sins.

Show us Your unfailing love, O LORD,

and grant us Your salvation.

I will listen to what God the LORD will say;

He promises peace to His people, His saints.

Surely His salvation is near those who fear Him,

that His glory may dwell in our land.

Love and faithfulness meet together;

righteousness and peace kiss each other.

            Glory be to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit,

            as it was in the beginning,

                        is now, and will be forever.  Amen

 

SECOND LESSON – 2 Peter 3:8-14 (Sermon Text)

Our Lord is a patient and loving God, who wants all people to repent of their sin and know of His salvation.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.  The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.  Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?  You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.  That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.  But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.  So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.  (NIV1984)

 VERSE OF THE DAY

Alleluia.  Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.  All mankind will see God’s salvation.  Alleluia. (Luke 3:4, 6)

CAlleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  These words are written that we may believe that Jesus is

       the Christ, the Son of God.  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

GOSPEL LESSON – Mark 1:1-8

Mark reminds us of the words of Isaiah and how they are fulfilled in John the Baptist.

The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  It is written in Isaiah the prophet:  “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”— “a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ “  And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him.  Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.  John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  And this was his message:  “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.  I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”  (NIV1984)

 C:        Praise be to you, O Christ!

 SERMON  Jesus Is Coming!  I Can Hardly Wait!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Do you remember the days when you could plan on having a party or a celebration at your house— and invite as many people as you wanted?  Do you remember how exciting it was to plan what you were going to serve?  Do you remember how much fun you had sending out the invitations hoping that everyone would be able to attend— especially that one dear friend that you hadn’t seen in quite some time?  Do you remember the joy?  The excitement?  The anticipation?  Ah, those were the “good ‘ol days,” weren’t they!

If you can recall that joy, that excitement and that anticipation then you’ll be able to relate to how I want us to study our sermon text for today.  This morning let’s study these words of our God with hearts that confidently say:  Jesus Is Coming!  I Can Hardly Wait!  There are three questions we want to address this morning.  First, what is taking Him so long?  Two, how does His return shape my life?  And three, what will He give to us when He returns?

Jesus is coming!  I can hardly wait!  But it’s been about 2,000 years since Jesus promised to return to this earth— what is taking Him so long?  I know this may be difficult for us to believe, but there have been and there still are people who scoff at the idea of Jesus “returning” to this earth.  In fact, that is one of the reasons why God the Holy Spirit had Peter write these words of our text.  In 2 Peter 3:3, 4 Peter says to God’s people, “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.  They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised?  Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’”

Because we are so excited for Jesus to return to this earth and because there are still people who scoff at the idea of Jesus coming back to this earth, we would do well to listen closely to what Peter tell us in the opening verses of our text.  He writes, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

We look back  over the course of time and say, “It’s been 2,000 years since Jesus ascended into heaven!  What is taking Him so long to fulfill His promise and come back?”  What we need to remember, however, is that from the Lord’s perspective His ascension into heaven was just two days ago!  We also need to remember what Jesus says to us in John 10:16, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen.  I must bring them also.  They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

When we look around in this world and see how things seem to  only be getting “worser and worser” all the time, when the devil, the world and our own sinful flesh keep attacking us over and over and over again,  it’s easy to understand why we might lift up our eyes to heaven and say, “Lord, what is taking you so long to fulfill your promise?”  A far more accurate response, however, would be to lift up our eyes to the cross (Pointing to the cross) and ask, “Lord, who else needs to be brought into your Kingdom of Grace before you return to this earth?  Is it someone I know?  Is it someone I love?  Thank you for being patient enough to allow them time to hear about what you have done for them and be brought to faith in you as their Savior.  Help me to share your sweet, simple, powerful Gospel message with them in whatever way I can!”

Once we understand that the only reason Jesus has not yet returned to this earth is summed up in Peter’s words, “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance,” then we can take to heart our second question for today, “How does this truth shape my life?”  Or, as Peter phrases that question here in our text, “What kind of people ought you to be?  Look at it this way, my friends.  If someone does not believe in Jesus as their Savior, if someone does not believe that Jesus will return to this earth as the Judge of the living and the dead, then they can easily adopt the attitude of, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32).  If someone thinks that this world— with all of its flaws and all of its pains and all of its sorrows— is “as good as it gets,” if someone does not think that there is anything on the other side of the grave, then it would be very easy for them to become indifferent and depressed— especially as they age and begin to feel the frailty of their mortal body.

What about us?  How does the truth that Jesus is coming back shape the way we live our life as well as our outlook on life?  Peter answers those questions when he says to us, “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”  Go back to how excited you are when you are planning a special party or a huge celebration at your house.  Not a day goes by without you thinking about all the things you want to get done before that special day arrives.  As the big day gets closer and closer you get more and more excited!

Now take that joy, take that focus, take that excitement, and apply it to the truth that Jesus is coming back!  This is why we strive each and every day to “live holy and godly lives”!  We want to make sure that we are ready for Jesus’ arrival!  We want to make sure that each and every day our love for Jesus leads us to be obedient to what He has revealed to us here in His holy Word.  (See John 15:10; 1 John 5:3).  That’s why every single day we recognize our unworthiness, we confess our sinfulness, and we trust in the forgiveness that Jesus won for us!  (Pointing to the cross)

The truth that Jesus is coming back coupled together with the truth that the only reason Jesus has not yet returned is because He is patiently waiting for His “other sheep” to be brought into the “sheep pen” of His Church, leads us to “look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”  How do we “speed” or “hasten” the arrival of Jesus’ return?  Think about it.  Jesus is “patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  Jesus has also told us, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).  We “speed” or “hasten” the arrival of Judgment Day by— supporting mission work!  With our prayers and with our offerings, through our “holy and godly lives” and through our Synod we do everything we can to help other people hear about who Jesus is and what Jesus has done for them!  (Pointing to the cross)

Jesus is coming!  I can hardly wait!  That confidence and that joy is founded upon what Jesus will give to us when He returns to this earth.  Look at what Peter tells us in verses 12 and 13 of our text, “That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.  But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”

While there are many many reasons why we are excited about Jesus coming back to this earth, while there are many many glorious things Jesus will give to us on the day He returns— one of the things I am personally looking forward to is what Peter describes as “a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”  Using divine fire to “burn away” the “dross” of sin, I believe that Jesus is going to “restore” this earth back to the way it was when He first created it— absolutely perfect in absolutely every way!  (See Genesis 1:31)  Try to imagine the earth free from all the effects of sin.  There will be no natural disasters, no death, no disease, no danger of any kind.  Since the “newly restored” earth will be the “home of righteousness” only those who believe and trust in Jesus as their Savior will be living on the new earth.  All of the unbelievers will hear our Savior-King say to them, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).

Every time I read this portion of Peter’s letter I automatically think of what John describes for us in Revelation 21:1-4, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”  This picture always leads me to say, “I can hardly wait!”

Do you remember the “good ‘ol days” when you could plan a party or a celebration at your house and invite as many people as you wanted?  Do you remember how exciting it was to send out the invitations and make all the preparations?  Do you remember how thrilled you were as each of your guests arrived— especially that one dear friend you hadn’t seen in quite some time?  That joy, that excitement, that anticipation is just a taste of what it will be like at Jesus’ second advent into this world!  Since we know that Jesus will return once the very last of His “sheep” has been brought into the “sheep pen” of His Church, since we know how His return shapes and guides our life, since we know that when Jesus comes back He will give to us “a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness,” that is our motivation to take to heart what Peter tells us in the closing words of our text, “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”

Jesus is coming!  I can hardly wait!

To God be the glory!

Amen

APOSTLES’ CREED

I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into hell.  The third day He rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.  From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.

 OFFERING

During this time of uncertainty we still want to bring our thank offerings to our dear Lord and Savior.  We ask that you continue to set your offerings aside so that when we are able to come together again in God’s House we will be able to place our offerings on His altar.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH

Jesus Christ, King of glory, who in great lowliness came to earth to bear our sins, to suffer our hell, and to die our death, we thank you for your  promise to come again— not as the Bearer of our sins, but as our Deliverer to take us to heaven, our fatherland.  Help us look with longing to that day of power when we will see you face to face and look upon your glory.  May the promise of your coming drive sorrow from our hearts and fill us with abiding joy.

Lord, grant that when we stand before your throne on the last day, we will all joyfully hear your invitation to inherit the kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world.  Keep us from backsliding lest we lose our hold on eternal life.  Grant us a rich measure of the Holy Spirit and His grace.  May He keep us from putting our trust in any but you to save us.  May He keep us from becoming indifferent toward your holy Word and Sacraments.  May He keep our hearts filled with faith, our minds filled with thoughts of heaven, and our eyes trained to watch for your sudden reappearing.  Through the Spirit empower us to demonstrate with wholesome and honorable Christian lives that we truly are God’s children by faith.  Grant to those whose faith has been slothful and sluggish a repentant readiness at your last coming.

Forgive all unbelief and doubt that may yet cling to us, as well as every failure to live a godly life.  Forgive us for neglecting the blessed privilege of prayer as well as neglecting to offer you all the praise that is due your holy Name.  Restore the joy of salvation to us through the pardon you so graciously bestow and through the confidence you give us that we are heirs of salvation.

O everliving Lord, our hearts’ desire is that all people may share the glorious privilege of knowing you in truth and of receiving you by faith.  To this end, fill us with your Holy Spirit so that we become more diligent and skillful in bearing witness to your salvation in the world.  Let not the word of our testimony return to you empty, but use it to work Christian conversions, rightly preparing people for the great day of your coming.  Hear us, our precious and only Redeemer.

All of this we ask in the Name of Jesus our Lord, who taught us to pray:

C:        Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.  Amen.

M:       O Lord God, our heavenly Father, pour out the Holy Spirit on your faithful people.  Keep us strong in your grace and truth, protect and comfort us in all temptation, and bestow on us your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C:        Amen.

M:       Brothers and sisters, go in peace.  Live in harmony with one another.  Serve the Lord with gladness.

The Lord bless you and keep you.  The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.  The Lord look on you with favor and give you peace.

C:        Amen.