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The New (Advent) Normal! (Advent 2C)

December 9, 2012

Second Sunday in Advent                             Trinity Lutheran Church

9 December 2012                                         Murdock, NE


+Jesu Juva +

Click here to listen to this sermon.

St. Luke 3:1-14 / The New (Advent) Normal!


Is he really a pastor?  Is this the “new normal” when it comes to preachers? 


Did you get a look at him?  Wild long hair!  I’ll bet it’s never been cut!  And the beard!  Man!  Did you see how long it is?  The “Duck Dynasty” boys on the A&E channel have nothing on this preacher as far as outward appearance! 


His vestments?  How strange!  Not Camo!  But camel!  A camel hair poncho cinched by a worn, moth eaten, brown leather belt! 


I wonder!  When was the last time he brushed his teeth?  I’m not so sure he even has any left!  Has he ever taken a bath?  Of course he stands in mucky Jordan River water most of the day but he never seems to wash in it!  When was the last time he ever trimmed his gnarly toenails? Don’t stand too close friends!  He reeks!  The BO is so powerful that it might make you puke!  His halitosis is wretched! 


Check out his sack lunch!  Low fat, high protein, honey-dipped, sun baked grasshoppers!  Crunchy locusts!  Legs, head, and all!  And the crumbs go all over the place!  What a disaster! 


Is this the new normal for preachers in the church?  This Old Testament beyond the grunge prophet look?  This offensive body stench and foul breath?  And the crispy, crumbly, sweet diet?


No.  That’s not the new normal for preachers in God’s church. 


However, THE MESSAGE – THE SERMON – THE VOICE — IS!  THAT’S THE NEW NORMAL!  AND I WARN YOU: this new normal voice is shocking!  Scandalous!  Outrageous!  Audacious!  Why?  Here’s why!  You always believed you were just fine.  On cruise control!  Smooth sailing!  Satisfied!  Everything as usual!  Doing the things you’ve always done!  Living your lives the way you’ve always lived! 


Little did you know!  TIMES HAVE CHANGED!  TIME FOR YOU TO CHANGE!  IT IS TIME FOR THE NEW NORMAL!  THE DIVINE ADVENT NEW NORMAL!  It comes from the most unlikeliest of all people:  a desert preacher whose voice bellows from his wilderness pulpit!         


And it’s time that we hear it!  And it’s time we believe it – this new divine normal!  Do you know what it is called? 


It’s called REPENTANCE, FAITH IN GOD’S PROMISE OF SALVATION, AND HOLY LIVING!  That’s the whole enchilada of the new normal with preacher, prophet extraordinaire John the Baptist! 


“The Word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert.”  John is not an imposter or sneak preacher!  He hasn’t set himself up.  This isn’t “John the Baptist Ministries International”!  He’s the real deal!  Credentialed! Called and ordained!  Or as they say down south:  he’s bona fide!  


“The Word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert.”  This is the language of the Old Testament when God calls a man to be His preacher, His prophetic voice!  To speak God’s Word!  God’s Word – God’s voice must be heard!  And John is sent to preach it!  Why?   


To afflict you the sinner!  But then to comfort you the terrified in the conscience sinner! 


To proclaim God’s wrath against your sin!  But also to preach God’s tender forgiveness for all your sin!


To pronounce God’s melt-your-face-off Law – God’s X-Ray like Law that exposes your malignant and nasty sin!  But also to speak life giving and totally freeing divine mercy in the good news of Christ’s divine pardon and acquittal! 


To put your old Adam to death!  But then to raise you up from death, from nothing, to be a new creation, a new creature, or the new man spelled:




Yes, faith!  Talk about NEW!  Talk about God’s NEW NORMAL!  God’s will is to create believers who trust in His promise to save sinners from His wrath and eternal damnation in hell!  The new normal if you will!  


Consequently the desert preacher shouts:  “Prepare!” “Prepare the way for the Lord!”  Yes, that’s right!  The Messiah is at hand!  The Savior of the world – God in the flesh is here!  He’s the mighty one!  The stronger one!  Jesus the Christ!  The King of kings and Lord of lords! 


So:  “Prepare!  Prepare the way for the Lord!” 


How?  How does one prepare the way for the Lord?  Well, it’s an “R” word!  Spelled:  R-E-P-E-N-T! 


Yes, that’s right:  you are to REPENT!  Or to put it another way:  the Lord through the preacher has come to REPENT you! 


This is the Lord’s new normal!  Like when the highway department bulldozes the mountains, levels the hills, and takes out the hair pin turns to build an even highway — similar to when the department of roads smoothes out the rough spots and wash boards on the streets and fills in the pots holes – so also curved-in-on-themselves-sinners are to be smashed, steamrolled, flattened, straightened, and smoothed out!  In other word, sinners are to be REPENTED!  Brought low to repentance! 


Now, I tell you the truth – just like John – if you insist on remaining in your sin – if you bullishly persist on keeping your sin outside of Christ’s forgiveness, or if you continue on being a genealogy braggart as if tracing your heritage back to an Abraham, a Martin Luther, or a grandparent gives you eternal brownie points, then “the ax is already at the root of the trees and every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”   


So, it is time to repent!  Before it is eternally too late!    


The new normal of repentance is all about truth telling!  Or knocking off the lies or putting an end to all the spin, excuses and the endless justification of the self!  To repent is to confess.  Confess that you are a sinner.  Part of the “brood of vipers” crowd.  I.E.  the hard-core, committed, passionate, obstinate, hellacious sons of anarchy-like sinners!  We’re talking the very worst! 


Sinners, who falsely believe they can put off “the coming wrath” of God, soften it up somehow, or think that they can outrun it! 


Enough of that!  Instead, confess!  Tell the truth!  Confess you’re the kind of sinner that God through the prophet Malachi says you are:  “sorcerers, adulterers perjurers, cheaters, thieves, oppressors of widows and the orphans, who are unjust and discriminatory to foreigners … and who turn a deaf ear to God’s Word!”  To repent is to confess that you are a full-blown sinner who deserves nothing but God’s wrath!  It’s the truth!


That’s quite a new normal, isn’t it?  Actually dying to your sin!  And that, of course is the life of your Baptism when you were buried with Christ into His death.  A Baptism that the Nicene Creed correctly states is for the remission of sins!


But there’s more!  More to the new normal of God’s way for you!  It is the heart of repentance!  It is this: the Lord calls you and brings you to believe!  To trust that what the preacher preaches is true about how God saves “brood of vipers” like sinners!


“All mankind will see God’s salvation” John proclaims!  And God’s salvation did indeed come down from heaven!  God’s salvation sits smack dab on the earth in the lap of the Virgin Mary!  God’s salvation is found only in that Baby conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin in the little town of Bethlehem!  This Baby Boy is none other than God in the flesh! 


Born to save you from your sins and to give you second birth!  That’s Good Friday and Easter Sunday!  God’s salvation FOR YOU in the Body of Jesus who bears and answers for all your sin!  And your Baptism in the Triune Name – born again by water and the Spirit! 


So the new normal for you is that you trust not only that Jesus died and rose.  BUT MOST ESPECIALLY THAT HE DIED AND ROSE FOR YOU!  The new divine normal is that you cling to His promise that you really are forgiven.  Completely!  Totally!  That Jesus doggedly refuses to count any of your sin against you!   


Finally, the new divine normal includes the answer to the question:  “What shall we do now?  Now that we are forgiven?  Saved?  Now that we believe in Jesus?”   The answer is simple.  It’s called holy living!  “Producing fruit in keeping with repentance” as John puts it.  And that’s living according to God’s will, God’s holy Word. 


Holy living according to God’s Word is living for others, not for yourself!  Holy living in keeping with God’s will is all about loving other people!  Living as a little christ!  Not to be served BUT TO SERVE!


You have two shirts, loads of jeans, coats, shoes, blankets?  Give one to the person who doesn’t have any.  Do you have food?  Then donate to the food bank, to the food drive here at the church, or feed your family.  If you work for the IRS, state or local government, don’t pad your pockets or bank account by embezzling or by charging outrageous taxes!  If you’re a soldier, don’t extort cash from people, don’t falsely accuse them, and be content with your pay. 


In other words, whatever your vocation(s) in life, do them well!  Do them faithfully!  Why?  Because vocation is all about being the Lord’s instrument – a little christ — in the world, your community and family for the good of the folks in your life.  Your neighbor needs your love! 


And who is your neighbor?  Your spouse, your children, grandchildren, employers, employees, co-workers, congregation members, pastor, and fellow citizens!  They all need your love! 


Your spouse needs your faithfulness and self-sacrificial love in body, mind and soul.  Your children need your physical presence, guidance and care.  Your congregation and her pastor need your regular attendance and generous giving of your time, treasure and talents.  Your employer needs your work to be done with excellence.  Your employees need to be paid a fair wage.  Your community and country need your loyalty, patriotism and sacrifice.


The new normal!  We’ll spend the rest of our live getting used to it!  Repentance!  Faith.  Holy living!  It all goes against everything that we see, know, and feel!    


But do not despair!  Do not fear!  The Lord will bring His new normal way of dealing with His died for sinners to fulfillment!  St. Paul put it this way in the Epistle:  “I am confident of this, that he [the Lord who died for you] who began a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).   


That’s great!  You’re in the Lord’s hands!  He will see to your repentance, your faith, and your holy living.  He always does!  Whether it’s through a wilderness John the Baptist, an apostle Paul, or a Pastor Baumgaertner, Peters, Krey, Johannes, Bereuter or Kuhlman.    


Happy being included the divine Advent new normal! 


In the Name of Jesus.        

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