Sermon for Advent 2 – 12.4.22

+ 2nd Sunday in Advent – December 4th, 2022 +

Series A: Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand”

 

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Can you imagine what it would be like if John the Baptist showed up at your house this Advent season? There you are enjoying a festive party with family and friends, Christmas music is playing, everyone is wearing their best ugly Christmas sweaters and a guy wearing camel skins barges in like a gangster in the Home Alonemovie…Merry Christmas you filthy animals! Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!

 

There’s a reason Hallmark doesn’t have any Advent cards with John the Baptist featured on the cover…”Happy Advent, you brood of vipers!” In a season of lights and sounds and smells, John the Baptist is a bit jarring isn’t he. John makes us uncomfortable. It’s not his wardrobe or diet choice, though camel’s hair, locust and wild honey sound a bit odd. When John stands before us, as he does today, it’s not his wardrobe that makes us squirm, it’s his words. John’s a straight shooter. He preaches the truth. John is the voice crying out in the wilderness that Isaiah and Micah foretold would come before the dawning day of the Messiah.

 

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”

 

John’s message is simple. It’s a message of Preparation. Prepare the way of the Lord. How? Repentance and forgiveness. Why? Jesus, the promised King has arrived. His kingdom is at hand.

 

When the Scribes and Pharisees come out to see what all the hullabaloo in the wilderness was about they were greeted with John’s word of warning, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”

 

How’s that for a welcome? Children of serpents. Isn’t John being a little harsh? Why does John say this? This is why; the standard in the kingdom of heaven wasn’t that they belonged in Abraham’s family tree, but whether or not they belonged to Jesus’ family tree through faith in him; not that they trusted in their own works, but in the work he came to do. “Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.”

 

John preached the truth to the Pharisees and Scribes gathered there in the 1st century. For us in the 21stcentury, John speaks the truth as well. True, we’re not the scribes and pharisees. And while he’s not calling us a brood of vipers, John is still God’s mouthpiece for us this Advent season.

 

And what does John have to say to us here in the 21st century? The same message he preached so long ago as he prepared the world for the coming Messiah. Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!

 

John preaches the truth about us. The truth about our sin. The truth that it leads to our ruin. John is like the home inspector who comes in when you sell or buy a house. He goes into the crawl spaces, opens the dusty attic and says, “Well, you’ve got mold growing under your house, termites in the walls, and asbestos in the ceiling panels, and a whole bunch of other stuff…you need to tear down and rebuild.” That’s John the Baptist. God’s divine demolition worker.

 

Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!

 

To repent is to have a change of mind. That’s what the word repent literally means. To change your mind, your thinking. It’s not about behaving yourself. That comes later. That’s bearing the fruits of repentance. But repentance is a total flip of the mind and the will – which only God can and does work, by his word. The word that John preaches to us today. The time is at hand. There is no tomorrow. No procrastination. The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

 

If John were standing in our living rooms or barging into our Christmas parties he’d warn us not to rely on our goodness, our holiness, our works, our piety, our prayers, our anything. He’d tell us in no uncertain terms that if we haven’t repented, we need to repent and remember who we are and who God is. He’d also tell us that even if we have repented we still need to repent of thinking that our repentance is enough.

 

This is how God’s law works on us sinners. The Law says “do this,” and it is never done. God gives us his Law to prepares the way for the Gospel. God sent John to prepare the way for Jesus.

 

And in Jesus, the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. He is kingdom of heaven in human flesh. Jesus comes to do for you what you cannot do for yourself. Keep God’s Law, every word of it. He lives the life that needs no repentance and does so for you. Jesus is the mighty one whose sandals John is not worthy to untie and yet he stoops down and washes his disciples’ feet in humility and then goes to the cross to die in humility for you. Jesus takes the axe that is laid to the root of our sin and swings it right into the tree of his own cross. Jesus the rightful judge of heaven and earth came to be judged in our place for all our failures to repent, for all the times we’ve thought that by our own repentance we can win his love, for all the bad fruit that our hands and hearts and minds have produced and will produce.

 

In simple, ordinary water and word, Jesus made you a citizen of his kingdom, and planted you in him and joined you forever to his death and resurrection. He is the Vine, we are the branches. And in Christ, you bear that good fruit that John preaches about.

 

What does that look like to live a life of repentance today? To bear fruit of repentance is to confess the name of Jesus in the face of a world which thinks that everything about our faith is foolish. To bear fruit is to confess our sins for God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness; and to confess when we have sinned against each other. To bear fruit is to live in the Word of God, here in our Lord’s house and in our homes in our families. To bear fruit is to live in mercy and love towards your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ: a card, a phone call, a visit, a word that builds up, encourages, and forgives. To bear fruit is to bear one another’s burdens. To bear fruit is to be a light in the darkness of this fallen world as you go about your daily vocations in the home, among your neighbors, at work, and everywhere you go. To bear fruit is to realize that all of these things – from repentance to the fruit of repentance – is worked in you through the same Lord who was working through John to prepare his way.

 

Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. But also rejoice, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. When you were baptized into our Lord’s death and resurrection Jesus’ kingdom was at hand, and is at hand every day as you live in his baptismal mercy. When you hear God’s word of promise and forgiveness, Jesus’ kingdom is at hand. When you receive the fruit of his cross in his holy body and blood today, Jesus’ kingdom is at hand for you. And throughout this Advent season, the kingdom of heaven is at hand for that kingdom is Jesus who comes to save you.

 

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977