Advent 1 (Ad Te Levavi)
Delivered By
Pr. Lovett
Delivered On
December 2, 2012
Central Passage
Matthew 21:1-9




In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The saints of God still sing the words of the crowd that welcomed the Lord into Jerusalem. We still sing, “Hosanna to the King! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” We don’t sing these words in the holy liturgy just so we can say we use the Bible in our worship. We sing these words because according to the Scriptures, we believe, teach, and confess that our King comes to us and among us in word and sacrament. The crowds that day gathered because they heard that Jesus was there and they wanted to be with Him and near Him and hear Him and be blessed by this man of God. We gather for the same reason: to be with the Lord who is here, to be near Him, to hear Him, and to be blessed by Him.
Lots of Christians quote our Lord who said that where two or three are gathered in His name, there He is among them. But most don’t consider the part that says, “in my name.” When we are gathered for the purpose of Jesus and according to His words and instruction and institution, then He is in the midst of us. By way of comparison, the crowd that gathered that day didn’t gather and then Jesus appeared. The crowd gathered that day because they knew where Jesus was going to be. Same with us. We are here today because we know the Lord is here and we want to receive His blessing.
Going to church is as simple as that: we want to receive the blessing of the Lord.
But the devil is smart. He’s not going to tell you obvious lies. He’s going to tell you the truth with a wrong conclusion. So he’ll say that you can receive the Lord’s blessing even if you don’t attend the Lord’s gathering. But out of the devil’s mouth even the truth is a lie. So when the devil says you can receive the Lord’s blessing even if you don’t attend the Lord’s gathering, he isn’t trying to comfort you in Christ, he is trying to separate you from Christ. Rebuke him. Get behind me, Satan! You don’t have the things of God in mind!
When the devil tells you that you don’t need this gathering to be a Christian, he’s not trying to comfort you with the gospel, reminding you that even in the darkest hell Christ can bring you salvation. He is driving a wedge between you and your Lord so that you don’t seek the things of God or His blessing. The devil is really good at giving a lot of advice on how to be spiritual and how to get the blessings of God and how to live the Christian life. And he knows no limits to his trickery so that he will trick one into thinking that all he needs to do is go to church while his heart is far from God; and he will trick another into thinking that as long as he reads the Bible then he will be blessed, even though Jesus says in the Bible to gather together with the other saints and to eat and drink His body and blood. The devil is full of advice that will get you nowhere, but as long as you’re listening he’ll keep selling what you want to hear.
But in the end, he only wants to separate you from your Lord. He bombards you with spirituality so that you are overwhelmed and you give up. There are too many books on Christian living, too many preachers on the radio, too many twelve-step churches, too many programmatic salvation plans. Which one is right? Which one will help you the most? Which Christian author has the answers?
I am reminded of the myriad of workout merchandise that is pandered to the consumer. Whole channels on television are dedicated to nothing but workout routines that all promise you the best body, the lowest amount of fat, the highest energy, the clearest skin, the perfect life. We go from one to another to another, buying their programs, drinking their shakes, eating their diets, but then we see another one whose followers seem happier, whose results seem faster, whose merchandise seems cooler and more modern. And we break out our wallets and pay the price.
The devil doesn’t mind all the spiritual advice out there. He delights in it because it causes us to try and find God everywhere but where He promises to be. He doesn’t mind that there are a million spiritual gurus all bidding for our time and money, promising a better life, a more fulfilled Christian walk, and answers to prayers. He loves that our attention is divided and that our minds are confused. He delights that we think there must be more to the simple words of Jesus: “I am the Good Shepherd.”
The fitness industry loves the fact that you don’t think your workout and diet is the best. They’re counting on it so that you’ll spend more money to get the next greatest workout routine and dietary program. Just $39 a month! So the devil loves the fact that we’re never satisfied with what our Lord has given us. He will do whatever it takes to convince you and to keep you convinced that you’re not doing enough. His goal is singular: to separate you from the Lord and His blessing; and his method is simple: convince you that you don’t have what you need.
But the Lord provides you with all that you need, an abundance of what you need. He doesn’t wait for you to ascend the mountain of knowledge and wisdom before He blesses you. He blessed many of you even as babies, washing you with His water of blessing, clothing you all with Himself. He is not far off somewhere so that you need to learn how to make Him real in your life. He is as real in your life as the air you breath, coming to you in the realities of bread and wine, water and word.
There is only one guru of spirituality. And He is sitting on the highest mountain, at peace with God and man, sitting at the right hand of God. And the mountain is not in a far away country that you need to make pilgrimage to it. The congregation of saints is His holy mountain and Zion is its name.  And the peace that He teaches you doesn’t come from your ability to master your flesh or your mind; it doesn’t come from you at all. The peace He teaches comes from Him – from His pierced hands and feet and His pierced side. Out of Him flows living waters mingled with the blood of righteousness, the river of peace that makes peace with God and brings salvation to you.
Behold, O Zion, your King comes to you and you receive Him with shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
In Nomine Iesu
+ Amen +