The cross is not some incidental part of the story of God's love for us. The cross is the place where that love is revealed most of all. The love of God cannot be told without the cross and where the cross is raised up; God will draw all people to himself. As Jesus was lifted up on the tree of the cross, so are we lifted up by that tree, raised up from our death and sin through Christ's forgiveness. This is our glory and comfort and this is the message that God has given to us to proclaim to the world.
The third Sunday in Advent issues a call to rejoice. In contrast to those who mark our Lord's coming with fear and trembling, the people of God rejoice that our King is coming. While no one can live in a constant state of happiness, the Christian's joy is not dependent upon the circumstances of our lives being as we desire. Our joy, like our hope, rests in Jesus Christ. As the psalmist says, "those who sow in tears... shall reap in joy." (Psalm 126:5) In all of this our joy is because of the Christ who came in flesh and blood to redeem us. Our joy is in the anticipation of his return to claim the people for whom he died and rose again.
On the First Sunday in Advent, we begin a journey not simply to the manger but the familiar journey that takes us to the manger, the cross, and the empty tomb. It is not merely a remembrance of what took place so long ago but also preparation for what is to come—our Lord's return in glory to lay claim to his Church for all eternity. Encouraged by the Spirit, we devote ourselves to faithfully keeping what God has made known to us and showing forth our living faith in words and acts of repentance and holy living. But each Advent is a reminder that we are one step further from Bethlehem and one year closer to our Lord's coming again.
During this service, we also celebrated the baptism of Jaxon Paterson, which you will hear referenced in this podcast.
On this last Sunday of the Church Year, we rejoice in the fulfillment of God’s plan for our salvation through Christ our King. And we rejoice because our Christ our King reigns—the king who once came as a sacrifice; the king who still shepherds us day by day; the king who one day will conquer all our enemies. Rejoice in his reign and look forward to the day when every knee will bow with us before the King of kings and Lord of lords!
As we near the end of this half of the Church Year, We focus on the Church's Lord. He is generous to the point of absurdity. No degree or duration of sin can possibly disqualify a person from his free pardon. Anyone who turns to him will not be turned away.