Preparing for Worship – First Sunday of Advent – 12/1/2019

From the Pastor’s Desk

I know what you are thinking. “Why are we hearing about Palm Sunday four weeks before Christmas?” That is a great question. I always think of Matthew 21 as a Palm Sunday text and whenever we get around to the first week of Advent I’m reminded that it is more than that.

That really is one of the beautiful things about the Church Year. It helps us to focus on the fullness of the work of Christ. There is a great explanation below as to why Matthew 21:1-9 is the Gospel text for the week. What I want to reflect on is the collect for the week. It may require some teaching first.

What is a collect? It is probably easiest to explain as being the collective prayer of the church. It is typically very short and is tied, thematically, with the texts appointed for the day. Currently, we do not have a separate time in our worship for the collect to be prayed and so I incorporate it and other prayers into the general prayer each Sunday. You should listen for it each Sunday, I insert it after the first paragraph.

This week the collect is, “Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance…”

I’ve been asked a number of times if God still miraculously saves and protects us from things. The answer, must undoubtedly is yes! He certainly does. What often is missed is how He does this. The collect for next Sunday points us in the right direction. He does this though rescuing us from the perils of our sin and saving us from those sins.

God’s primary concern for you is not always the deliverance from suffering, sickness, or peril but is for your eternal well being. The “threatening perils of our sins” in the collect are not merely temporal perils but eternal perils. God’s desire for you is “to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4) The Truth is the person of Christ Jesus, who is the mighty deliverer of our salvation.

Explanation of the Week

The new church year begins by focusing on the humble coming of our Lord. “Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey.” Even as He was born in a lowly manger, so Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a beast of burden. For He bears the sin of the world. He is the Son of David riding to His enthronement on the cross, where He shows Himself to be “The Lord, our Righteousness” (Jer 23:5-8). Our Lord still comes in great humility to deliver His righteousness to us in the Word and Sacraments. Before receiving Christ’s body and blood, we also sing, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mt 21:1-9) And as we receive the Sacrament, we set our hearts on His return in glory, for “Our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Rom 13:11-14).