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The Promised One of God

Romans 1.1-7


Wednesday of Advent IV
Lutheran Senior Services at Meramec Bluffs  
Ballwin, Missouri

Wed, Dec 22, 2010 

Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

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

1 At first glance the reading from Romans for today seems an odd choice for an Advent worship service.  These opening verses of Romans are St. Paul's greeting to the Church there, but this is much more than a simple greeting.  In these few verses St. Paul preaches the Gospel of our Lord and at the same time gives us a summary of the history of God's dealings with his people.  He writes:

[Romans 1.1-4]

1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.

2 This gospel for which St. Paul has been set apart has been promised from of old.  The prophets told the people of God the Savior was coming.  The faithful people of God throughout the ages longed to see him, but did so only by faith.  But when Jesus finally came, the gospel of God promised of old arrived in the flesh.  The gospel came to the people of God in the holy incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This Jesus was no ordinary baby.  He was God in flesh made manifest.  He is, as St. Paul says:

[Romans 1.3]

descended from David according to the flesh.

That is, he is fully and completely human.

And he is also:

[Romans 1.4]

declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.

In short, he is none other than Jesus the Messiah—Our Lord who is both fully God and fully man.

3 This is the Lord whose birth we prepare to celebrate this Advent season.  He is the everlasting Son of God, begotten of the Father from all eternity.  And his birth is the revelation to us that he has willingly taken on our flesh from the Blessed Virgin Mary, and come down to earth to save his people.  Through him, as St. Paul says, we receive:

[Romans 1.5-6]

. . . grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including YOU who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

4 By Christ's birth, the saving grace of God makes it entrance into the world.  In Christ's birth, the call to the messengers of God goes out.  In Christ's birth the nations gather and see not only a baby, but also their Savior and their Lord.  In Christ's birth, we see the one who calls us to faith and to everlasting life, and the one to whom we belong for all eternity.  In Christ's birth we hear God's call to us to be his saints.  For from the blessed child in the manger we receive grace and peace from our God and Father.

5 So St. Paul reminds us today who Jesus really is.  He reminds us what Jesus does.  So we continue our preparations to welcome him by thorough examination of our souls.  Do we see grace in the flesh when see Jesus in the manger?  Do we heed the call of God to go forth as messengers of his Gospel, along with St. Paul and all the apostles?  Do we gather with the nations of the world around the manger at Christmas time before all else?  Do we receive in faith the grace and peace that come from Christ, even while he sleeps in the manger?  Proper preparation to welcome Christ requires we ask ourselves these questions.  Proper preparation requires that we repent every time we must answer one of them, "No." 

6 By such repentance, worked by the Spirit of God, we are indeed prepared.  For to our repentance, Christ speaks forgiveness.  Forgiveness of every sin that is revealed by the examination of our souls.  With Christ's forgiveness comes renewal of our hearts and revival of our faith.  Thus we are prepared.  Prepared to welcome Christ as the Babe of Bethlehem.  Prepared to welcome Christ as Lord of our hearts and the Savior of our souls.  For he, and only he grants us grace that forgives our sins; peace that comes with renewed hearts; and the salvation of our God.  So we pray: Come Lord Jesus.  Come quickly.  Amen.

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

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