Let us pray: Dear Savior, rejoicing over good news always beats being fearful over bad news. Thus, today we are eternally grateful that You have given us the best news there is: You have come to save us, to watch over and actively bless us, and You even rejoice and sing songs of happiness over our new blessed estate in life! So, today we thank and praise You with joy-filled hearts over honoring us! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO REJOICES OVER YOU AND IS WITH YOU TODAY!
TEXT: Zephaniah 3: 14-17
Dearly Beloved In the Coming Christmas King:
Teaching history in our schools has fallen on hard times. History is the least popular class in most schools. Young people view it as boring and out-of-touch with their lives. Names, dates, events from the past don’t seem to have any relevance for them so they tune it out. This modern day divorcing of our culture from our history can be blamed on our adoption of linear time. In the past people viewed time as a circle or cyclical. Thus, history was important because the problems people faced and their solutions to them could then be analyzed, better understood, and applied in the average person’s life. Linear time views past events as having nothing to do with our future. So, learning about the founding fathers is meaningless, studying Roman history is dull, and most people live only in the here and now. Of course, this also means people are very narcissistic, they love themselves and hang on to their feelings about the present because they don’t comprehend the great cycle of time that they are caught up in. Now you know why most people feel very powerless and have no firm ground to stand upon in their lives, today.
“All things have been written for our learning.” So says the Bible. God wrote down all sorts of events in order for us to learn from our ancestors’ mistakes and failures and to come out on the other side better for it. And so we arrive at today’s amazing lesson.
The prophet Zephaniah lives about 625 odd years before Christ. He lived during the reign of King Josiah who spear-headed a mini reformation of the ancient church in Israel while surrounded by the superpowers of Babylon and Egypt. Israel was smack dab in the middle of these two giants. They had had their clocks cleaned more than once on the battlefield because they failed to trust God and cling to Him with all their hearts. Fear reigned; time seemed chaotic at best. But Josiah led a mini reformation and they repented of their sins and began to turn back to God. So, the Lord Almighty pronounced a blessing upon them, ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, just as He does on you and me today! On this, the 3rd Sunday of Advent, the joyful Sunday, they, like us, have a new reason to be joyful!
God says: “Sing, Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, Israel! (Names for the Church, comprised of males and females who trust in the Lord.) Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, ‘Do not fear, Zion; do not let our hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.'”
Right now we’re all unsettled by terrorism. Right now the economy is uncertain. Anxiety over bills and how to pay them, over our futures as a nation and as individuals—these things paralyze us and cause us to fear. The fascists of political correctness cause our voices to be stilled and our hands of faith to hang limp, too. We don’t want to be branded as religious bigots or as behind the times. Yet, when we use this time of Advent to repent, to turn to God alone, and to embrace His forgiving love won for us on the cross, well, mighty things happen!
First of all, Christ the Mighty Warrior has come and is coming and will come on the last day—all to destroy the power that really paralyzes people—eternal death. He triumphed over death with His death for our sins and His resurrection from our graves. Second, because our Mighty Warrior is with us even today in Word and Sacrament, no eternal harm can ever befall us. Yes, earthly harm—sickness, pain, hard times—these things may occur, but our souls, our eternal self, rests secure in Him. Because of Christ’s victory God Almighty takes personal delight, great delight in us! We’re never alone or forgotten—by God Himself! His lovingkindness always shields us. So much so that God even sings songs of happiness over us in heaven!
Think about what God’s voice must be like? Think about the angel choirs that accompany Him! Yes, you and I can make God rejoice over us! All this occurs because of Jesus Christ. All this happens because the Baby Jesus dwells in our hearts through faith and has changed us from sinners into saints. And so, just as the holy Father cannot and will not rebuke Christ because His Son is sinless, so shielded by Christ’s grace, we have nothing to fear in life, either.
All time is contained in God. He’s bigger than time. He’s outside of time. Yet, He agreed to step into our time especially to save our souls through the Baby Jesus. So, next time someone tries to pour cold water on your celebration of His birth, think about that fact and speak out and sing out for joy! This ancient text proves again that that is exactly what God is doing over you! Amen