Advent 1 (Ad Te Levavi)
Delivered By
Pr. Lovett
Delivered On
November 27, 2011
Central Passage
Matthew 21:1-9


In the name of the FATHER and of the + SON and of the HOLY SPIRIT.

It doesn’t take a theologian or liturgical scholar to see that the Church’s liturgy, the Church’s worship, is scriptural. Not simply because it uses the words of Scripture or mimics rites described in the Bible, but because the liturgy does what we say the Bible does. It presents and brings with it Christ. You don’t bring Christ to the Bible when you read it; neither do you bring Christ to church when you worship. Rather, the Lord inhabits the praises of His people and by His Spirit the Lord brings you here and enlightens you to seek Him and to believe His promises.

We don’t gather to talk about the idea of God or to reminisce about the life of Jesus. We are gathered here by God to be in the Lord’s presence and to be blessed by Him. This is the blessing of the Lord. The entrance hymn and everything that follows from the Introit to the sermon to the canticles of the Holy Supper – the very fact that you are here – is the fulfillment of the blessing of the Lord. Here the Lord bless you and keep you. Here the Lord make His face shine upon you and is gracious to you. Here the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and gives you peace. Peace with God; a clean conscience in the waters of Holy Baptism. He re-affirms and establishes you in His peace by sharing with you His bread and cup, a meal of holy communion with the Lord Himself. Many Christians have been led astray to believe that this sacred meal is optional, that it’s meaning is derived from their own piety or understanding or their own preparations. But this Holy Meal, this sacred gathered is not defined by us or by our understanding, it is greater than us. This is the Lord’s Temple. It is His gathering. And so we sing, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

The so-called “Triumphal Entry” of the Lord as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey foreshadowed a greater entry into a greater city. It foreshadowed the Risen Lord entering the heavenly city, the Jerusalem that comes down from above. It foreshadowed His entry here among you His people. That is why we sing the Sanctus. The Sanctus is a combination of Isaiah’s vision of the Lord in the temple and the cries of the crowd outside Jerusalem that welcomed Jesus with strew cloaks and palm branches. We don’t sing it just to use the Bible in worship, but because Isaiah’s vision and the Triumphant Entry of Jesus are fulfilled now as the Lord Himself is here filling His Temple, His Body, and entering His Holy City, the new Jerusalem as Savior and King. So we sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty! Heaven and earth are full of His glory, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

Here Isaiah’s vision is fulfilled. Right here at 9th & Clay in Hoisington, KS. Here the Lord sits enthroned. Not on a gold-laden throne, but in bread and wine; in His Temple, His Body. In His Church. Not a building built with hands, but a building built with living stones. His Body. Here the Son of David enters into creation to save it; which is what “Hosanna” means, the salvation of the Lord. It was a liturgical word even for the Jews. It wasn’t an every-day word. It was said in the temple, in the presence of God. It was prayed in the psalms, specifically to introduce the psalms. It was a temple word. It is a temple word. The people of God shout it here, in His holy temple where the Lord sits enthroned; where He comes to you and saves you and calls you His people, gathering you out of the darkness and into His marvelous light. Here, then, is the importance of this weekly gathering. We are gathered by the Lord to sing His praises as He enters His creation through bread and wine, water and word to save His people from their sins and to call those who were not a people, His people. The work He began in the Virgin’s womb, He continues now in His Church, doing the will of the Father, saving His people from their sins. He does this in His Church throughout the world; gathering, enlightening, sanctifying, and saving His people.

But there is more. Just as Isaiah and the crowds outside Jerusalem foreshadowed the Divine Service, as the whole of ancient Israel is a foreshadow, so this Divine Service is also a type, a foreshadow. The Lord and all His benefits and blessings, all His gifts are here now, enlightening, saving, and sanctifying you. Yet we look forward – even as the crowds outside Jerusalem looked forward – to a time when our enemies will be finally silenced and our King will not come in humility and lowly estate as He did in the manger of Bethlehem, or on the donkeys of Jerusalem, and even now in the humility of bread and wine, water and word, but He will come in power and great might; when every knee in heaven and on earth and under the earth will bow to Jesus and every tongue confess that He is Lord.  Like the crowds of Jerusalem that welcomed the King of Glory with shouts of Hosanna, you, too, wait for the salvation of Israel, the people of God. You have the promises promised to the patriarchs. You have the benefit prophesied by the prophets. You have the redemption foretold in the life of ancient Israel. Yet still you wait. You wait on the Lord. He has already redeemed you and all His people; indeed He has redeemed the whole world, for He is the Redeemer. Yet your salvation is not complete. Though it is nearer to you now than when you first believed.

The completion of Baptism is not Confirmation. Neither is it the death of your mortal body. The completion of Baptism is the resurrection when you will don immortality. In Baptism you have been clothed with Christ’s righteousness, having a clean conscience before God, yet you still sin and wrestle with guilt and shame. In Baptism you are buried with Christ; dead to sin, yet still you sin and even take pleasure in your sin. Instead of forgiving others and bearing the burden of forgiveness, you justify your vindictive daydreams that make you feel good about your hatred by reminding yourself what evil others have done to you. You live out your lust in daydreams and with your eyes, and you say that as long as you don’t cross some self-imposed line your are free from evil while your heart is filled with it. You don’t want to be rid of your sins; you want your sins sanctified so that you can keep them and enjoy them. In Christ you have peace with God and man, yet you betray both with pet sins and nursed grudges. In your sin, you are no different than any other sinner. Yet you believe. You have been raised with Christ. This is the great burden and mystery of faith. You believe and therefore you speak. You believe that you are justified, and therefore you praise the Lord for your justification even while you sin. You believe you are sanctified, and so you praise the Lord for your righteousness even while your eye causes you to sin. You curse and swear falsely, saying one thing and meaning another. You defame your neighbor one minute and kiss the Lord the next. Yet in Christ your lips are cleansed. And the Spirit of Christ dwells in you, confirming the Lord’s promise to you that you belong to Him and that He will keep you in His Word and faith until you die; for this is His good and gracious will. You lift up your soul to the Lord, trusting in His promises that He will not let you be put to shame. You wait for the vindication of the Lord when He will call the devil and sin to account and will mercifully wipe away your tears of guilt and shame and renew in you His right Spirit. Then He will trample underfoot your enemies of sin and temptation, freeing you from your captivity.

Behold, even now the Lord comes, the King of Glory; strong and mighty. Saving His people from their sins by His all-availing sacrifice of His body and blood. He is the Lord, mighty in battle and those who wait on Him will not be put to shame.

+ Amen +


(In the preached sermon I refer to St. John's account of the Triumphant Entry; the reference should have been to St. Luke's account.)