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First Sunday of Advent (1881)

Matthew 21:1-9 Jesus Christ, the sun of grace of the world, has again accomplished His annual cycle. A year of grace with its magnificent festivals and with its divine services is behind us. We are on the threshold of a new church year. O, what joy should fill all hearts of Christians today! Already the world celebrates its New Year's Day with boisterous joy, although it does not know what the new year will bring it, whether happiness or unhappiness, poverty or wealth, honor or disgrace, etc. How much more should the believer begin the new church year with pure joy because he knows whatever will come upon him here on earth, happiness or misery, health or illness, etc. - everything must be peace and blessings in time and eternity to him! And how does he know that? He knows that the King of Grace comes again in the new church year with grace and salvation for him. We want to delight in this joyful truth in our first hour of devotion in the new church year. We consider The blessed Advent message: "Behold, your king is coming to you!" Hear, 1. how certain, 2. how comforting, 3. how encouraging this is. 1. How certain, because the Advent message is a. promised . not only to the Jews1, but also . to the Gentiles.2 He is King and Savior of all mankind; b. His visible entry into Jerusalem is a picture of His invisible entry in the world until Judgment Day; because . He does not enter into Jerusalem as a worldly king with royal glory, but humbly on a borrowed donkey, not surrounded by the authorities of this world, but viewed by His poor disciples and by a bunch of people converged together, that He will be a spiritual King over His people, His Zion; . but His people is the Church, the community of believers who persist until Judgment Day; He continually come to His Church as her spiritual King, so also to us in this new church year; c. He comes through Word and Sacrament - we have it purely and clearly, therefore we know that the Advent message, etc; therefore as often as we

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Zechariah 9:9. Isaiah 49:6; Psalm 117:1; Genesis 12:3.

gather in His name in this new church year3; as often as the Word of the Gospel resounds among us4, the Word of absolution5, as often as baptism, the Lord's Supper - Jesus therefore comes to join together in grace with us; 2. how comforting, because He comes a. as our King, to rule us with gentleness and patience, powerfully to protect against all our enemies; through His suffering, death, and resurrection He has overcome them and now comes to give us His victory, so that we no longer fear, recognize ourselves safe, free, and redeemed under His protection; b. as our King of grace - He comes with grace, with forgiveness of all sins; even in the new year new sins, new grace, new gifts, peace and joy, comfort and power, life and salvation through Word and Sacrament; c. as an omniscient and omnipotent Savior; as he knew, so he knows all the distress and temptation of his faithful with pity and compassion - and as He omnipotently draws hearts6, He also still today defends from all distress of His people as in the day of His flesh7; 3. how encouraging a. for joyful faith, . as the apostles and people faithfully recognize Him as their Messiah, . so the Advent message should awaken us to joyful faith in Jesus, our King of Grace, Savior, etc.; b. for intimate love, . as the apostles and people8, so we should . give all to Christ, offer ourselves to Him with all powers, goods, seek our joy and salvation in His service, encourage, praise and glorify His kingdom. O blessed church year which is begun! Blessed be its beginning, its ending, blessed it will be in time and eternity. Otto Hanser

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Matthew 18:20. Revelation 3:20. 5 Luke 10:16. 6 Matthew 21:3 (cf. Mark 11:4-6). 7 Hebrews 13:8. 8 Matthew 21:7-8.