Monday, November 28, 2005

Sermon - Advent 1 - 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

1st Sunday in Advent, November 27th, 2005
“Eagerly Waiting ”
1 Corinthians 1:3-9


I can’t believe December is almost here. Thanksgiving is done, and we are finishing up the left-overs. The shopping season has begun, and the malls are packed. Christmas decorations are up or going up soon, and Holiday parties are filling up the calendar. It’s that time of year again. Yes, it’s Advent. While the world celebrates Christmas beginning as early as September (I even saw some displays going up in August), in the Church, it is the season of Advent.

Advent means, “coming”. And you might think that it means “Christmas is coming”. And it does. But it also reminds us that Christ is coming, or returning, as he has promised.

While the world is awash in red and green, the church wears blue – which reminds us of the sky, and the promise that Christ would return the same way he left – he will come “with clouds descending”.

The halls of the world are decked with strings of lights and depictions of Santa. But the church lights a wreath of candles and thinks of the coming babe of Bethlehem.

Yes, Christmas is commercialized. Yes, the secular forces are trying to take the Christ out of Christmas and make it instead a generic “winter festival”. Yes, many forget the true reason for the season.

But the church is not without its problems. And we too get caught up in the de-christianization of it all. And we, the people of Grace Lutheran Church, also need to come to the foot of the cross in repentance. For we are sinners, and we need Christ. We’re not too unlike the Corinthians…

I. Problems in the Church
Paul wrote at least 2 letters to the church he founded in Corinth. Now, the Church of Corinth was what we might call dysfunctional. It was a mess. They had issues. Real problems. There was sexual immorality, yes even in the church. People thought, “It’s my body, I can do what I want with it”. There were divisions in the church, factions. One group against another against another. Unruly individuals were disrupting the worship services, people were getting drunk from too much communion wine, and some even denied basic teachings of the faith, like that Jesus actually rose from the dead.

Now, I think we have a great congregation here at Grace. But we’re fooling ourselves if we think we are perfect. As a church, even we have our own issues. We struggle with budgets and how to spend our resources. We frustrate each other in our various roles and relationships. We have our little cliques and factions too. After all, we are sinful people. And sinners… sin.

But that’s not all we are. And that’s not all the Corinthians were. Paul speaks lovingly of them, and commends them for their faith. And urges that even in spite of all their problems, that they should eagerly look forward to Christ’s coming.

II. Re-Focusing on Christ
Once a young boy was practicing his batting at the baseball diamond. With a bat in one hand and a ball in the other, he was tossing the ball in the air and taking his swings. He said to himself, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world” tossed the ball up, swung his bat, and missed. Again, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” Another ball in the air, another missed swing. Strike two. Once more he repeated, “I am the greatest hitter in the world!” and sure enough, strike three. “Wow.” Said the boy, “I’m the greatest pitcher in the world!”

Just as the young boy was able to find the good in the midst of the bad, so too Paul points to the God’s grace in Christ in the midst of our sin. We Christians are not the greatest do-gooders in the world. In fact the Greek word for sin means “missing the mark”. But Jesus Christ is the greatest, and the only, savior of the world.

Paul re-focuses them, and us, on Christ. Look at how many times Jesus Christ is named in this short passage…. 6 times in 6 verses. And what a reminder – that in all things we would focus on Christ.

Christ is always the solution. He is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, the author and perfector of our faith. He is the

For Jesus Christ brings us God’s grace. By his death on the cross and rising from the tomb he applies the love of God to sinners like you and me.

Jesus enriches us in every way. He confirms the message of his Gospel, so that we speak it and know it well. And Christ sends, through his spirit, gifts to his people.

And Christ promises he will return. Christ is for us, right now. But there is always the forward-looking, anticipatory nature of our faith. Just as the Corinthians looked forward to that day, so do we. When Jesus Christ is revealed. For that, we eagerly wait.

III. Blameless to the End
And the promise here is a beautiful one. That in Christ, we WILL BE kept strong and blameless until the end. What a word of comfort as we look ahead.

Looking ahead isn’t always the easiest thing to do. The future holds many unknowns. We often ponder how life will unfold, what will happen
in our family, our career, with our health and maybe even our faith. Will we be strong enough in our faith, especially if troubles come? Will we be able to continue trusting in him who came and him who is to come?
Sometimes we dread the future, but we need not do so in Christ. For he will keep us strong and blameless to the end!

Eagerly waiting. It’s a good thing to do in the season of Advent. As we eagerly await the celebration of Christmas, we also eagerly await the revelation of Jesus Christ on that great day to come. We look forward in confidence, knowing the promises of God for his people. For though we have problems, and though we sin much, Christ Brings us God’s grace and keeps us blameless to the end. In His Name, Amen.

Paul encourages believers to eagerly wait for Christ’s coming, with a beautiful promise that He will keep us strong and blameless to the end.

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