First Sunday in Advent

First Sunday in Advent (Series B)icon-download-pdf-wp
December 3, 2017

Gospel: Mark 11:1-10 or Mark 13:24-37
Epistle: 1 Cor. 1:3-9
Lesson: Is. 64:1-9
Psalm: Psalm 80:1-7

CLB Commentary – Rev. Ken Narvesen

Advent…Palm Sunday…both are about the Kingdom of God. The only way to properly prepare for Christmas is to think in terms of not just Jesus’ first advent but also of his second. And so here we see Jesus entering Jerusalem as messianic king and fulfilling prophecies in the Old Testament. We see him coming as king, but intentionally as a very different kind of king. We see his humility in the chosen mode of transportation. LCMS.org’s lectionaries summary for today highlights this humility as a preaching focus, “Although we pray that God “would rend the heavens and come down” (Is. 64:1), that He would take vengeance against our enemies, we ourselves “have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Is. 64:6). We have continued in our sins for “a long time, and shall we be saved?” (Is. 64:5). Yet, the Lord does not punish us in anger. He comes in voluntary meekness and humility to save us by His grace. Just as He once came into Jerusalem to sacrifice Himself for us upon the Cross (Mark 11:4–8), He still comes to His Church with the fruits of His Passion. By His ministry of the Gospel we are “enriched in Him in all speech and all knowledge,” and so He will “sustain you to the end” (1 Cor. 1:5, 8). Although “heaven and earth will pass away,” His words “will not pass away” (Mark 13:31). As He sends disciples to call us to Himself in the fellowship of His Church, so will He “send out the angels” to gather us and all of His elect “from the ends of the earth” to Himself in heaven forever (Mark 13:27).”

We are thus reminded that the purpose of his coming is to bring salvation, not from the oppression of the Romans, but from the oppression of sin. Sin is conquered in our lives not by human power, but by the wonder of the Gospel.

Pericope.org thus describes the focus of the first Sunday of Advent this way “Joyful anticipation marks the beginning of a new church year. Advent actually emphasizes three comings of Christ: (1) His coming on the first Christmas into human flesh; (2) His coming in judgment at the last day; (3) His coming in Word and Sacrament. Today’s service teaches that Jesus comes as Redeemer, the One Who sets us free from our sins. It is that redemption that gives us hope. Whether we think of His coming in judgment, through the Means of Grace, or His first coming at Christmas, the knowledge that He comes only because He loves us and wants to forgive and help us gives us confidence to greet Him with joy. The Introit proclaims the coming of our righteous King Who brings salvation. Those who trust Him will not be disappointed! The alternate Introit uses the Psalm of the day to call upon God’s people to welcome their coming Lord. We pray in The Collect that God would protect us and shield us from the punishment we so richly deserve and save us by His power. The Gradual bridges the lessons by calling on the Church to rejoice in the coming of its righteous Savior. The Verse calls on us to open wide the doors to welcome the coming Lord of glory. The Proper Preface for Advent reminds us of the message of the great forerunner of our Savior, John the Baptist, and his message of repentance leading to salvation. In response to that message, we join the heavenly host in singing praise to our Lord.” We do not have to be liturgical to appreciate the clarity of this focus as it helps us to prepare for this Sunday.

Amazing surprises will be so preachable this week. Spend considerable time discussing why this text in chosen for a time in the calendar your people might not expect it. Talk about the connection between Palm Sunday and Advent. Talk about how Advent Sunday, Palm Sunday, and even Christmas must be connected to the fulfillment of his kingdom in the second advent. Discuss the value of the Old Testament prophecies for validation that this really is the messiah whose birth we are celebrating.

Second Sunday in Advent
Twenty-Fifth Sunday After Pentecost