Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The face of comfort

Sermon for Advent 2B, preached on Sunday, December 7, 2014.

    We all have our comfort foods, the eats we turn to when we are stressed, sad, or struggling.  Some restaurants specialize in comfort foods – not fancy recipes but the familiar tastes of home.   The problem with most comfort food is that it makes you fat.  The food we turn to to make us feel better also leaves its mark on us with bulging waistlines and clogged arteries.
    From the Garden of Eden it was comfort that was and is our weakness.  Adam had it all but it was not enough.  Prometheus said it right: Those whom the gods would destroy they would first flatter.  It was our desire for comfort, our aspiration for greatness, and our contentment with lies that make us feel better that was and still is our undoing.  The flattery of the devil got us once and still taunts us with lies we want to here.  You deserve it.  You need it.  You are worth it.  If it feels good, it must be good.  But all the lies in the world cannot comfort us.
    St. John the Forerunner came bursting upon the scene unsettling all the comfortable and it would seem that his message of repentance was the opposite of comfort.  But it is the very comfort that delivers its promise to us.  Prepare the way of the Lord!  Get your eyes off yourselves, off the moment, and off your desires.  Wake up!  See God deliver to you real comfort.  Grace sufficient, sins forgiven, His presence for sure, a future and a place prepared for us. . . lies cannot deliver this truth.  The face of comfort is the One who can do what we need, keep the promises of the Father, and redeem us from our lost and hopeless condition.
    There is no comfort in sin.  The real comfort comes in casting off the lies and departing from the wilderness of sin and its death.  Stop your warfare against the Spirit and the Word of the Lord and begin fighting against the desires within that got you in trouble in the first place and are still your undoing.  Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins.
    Most folks wanted John just to shut up and go away.  At least the religious leaders of the day did.  Don’t rock the boat, you get along by going along, tell folks what they want to hear... You can work out your salvation, fix what is wrong with your life, and find a path to happiness, success, and pleasure.  But it is all works and it is all lies.  John had it right.  Wake up for your pathway leads to despair and death.
    Wake up to what God is doing, what God has done.  The Lord comes with might.  There is no mistaking Santa and the Lord of heaven.  The law has teeth and the Gospel works.  Wake up.  Wake up not to the might of condemnation.  No, God does not desire your death but that you live forever.  So He has acted to answer justice with mercy.
    Wake up.  God refuses to leave us to our own devices, to surrender us to the emptiness of the lies we want to hear, or to the fake comfort of words that do nothing at all.  No, our God has acted in His Son to gather His lambs in His arms.  He carries us where we cannot walk, He rescues us from the enemies we do not see or recognize, and He delivers us from the captivity of sin, guilt, shame, suffering, and death.
    The Mighty One of heaven’s glory has become our very Savior, born in flesh like us to save us from the curse of sin and from eternal condemnation.  He exchanged heaven for a manger and the manger for the cross and there we see the face of real comfort.  He saves us by His blood.  He keeps the age old promises of the Father.  He plots a new future for us that mind cannot imagine and the heart cannot dream.
    We tell ourselves lies and we listen to liars who say what we want to hear.  More money, more sex, more time, more pleasure – these will make you happy and cure the longing inside.  These are the lies of the wilderness.  But now a voice cries in the wilderness.  The Child of the Virgin is the face of our comfort.  It is truth time and the truth is that most of the places were turn for comfort do nothing but lie to us and, sadly, we seem to be okay with that.  It is truth time and Christ rocks the boat with real comfort.  There in His incarnation is our hope.
    The comfort food we need is here.  Here is His flesh for the life of the world.  Here is His blood to drink and be satisfied.  He came with real comfort, He comes today with real comfort, and He is coming again with eternal comfort none can overcome.
    Behold, He comes!  The Good Shepherd to gather us lambs in His arms... to lead us young and old home... through the gate of death and the grave... to life beyond imagination... what God has prepared for those who love Him.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.  Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus!

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