Sundays:  Pastor's Class 9:00 AM
               Divine Service 10:30 AM

Wednesday: Pastor's Class 10:00 AM
                   Divine Service 7:00 PM 

Private Confession: By Appointment

World Without End

December 22, 2017

Verse: Psalm 89:27–89:29

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
December 24, 2017
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Advent 4
World Without End

And I will make him the firstborn,
the highest of the kings of the earth.

My steadfast love I will keep for him forever,
and my covenant will stand firm for him.

I will establish his offspring forever
and his throne as the days of the heavens. Psalm 89:27-29

The church has expended so much energy defending the divinity of Christ over the centuries, that she may have forgotten that he is also True Man. That does not mean just fully human, though he is. But also that Jesus is the ideal man. Man as God originally fashioned him to be: in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26) which means just what it says: to resemble God; and to be like God! Now there is a lofty thought!

Imagine! A man who resembles God. A man who is like God! But you don’t have to imagine very hard because that is exactly what Jesus is. Not only what Jesus was. But what he is now, and always will be. Because when our Lord ascended into heaven he did not lay aside his humanity, or somehow disentangle himself from us. But, quite the contrary, took humanity with him to the right hand of God! Just like we sing in our Ascension hymn (TLH# 218:5) ---

Thou hast raised our human nature
On the clouds to God's right hand;
There we sit in heavenly places,
There with Thee in glory stand.
Jesus reigns, adored by angels;
Man with God is on the throne.
Mighty Lord, in Thine ascension
We by faith behold our own.

Or in the words of one of the oldest known Christian liturgies, recorded for us by the hand of St. Paul in 1 Timothy 3:16

“Great indeed is the mystery of godliness we confess:
He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
and taken up in glory.”

This hymn, this liturgy, this holy birth we celebrate beginning a few hours from now is nothing less than the fulfillment of the prophecy we hear in today’s Psalm:

And I will make him the firstborn,
the highest of the kings of the earth.

My steadfast love I will keep for him forever,
and my covenant will stand firm for him.

I will establish his offspring forever
and his throne as the days of the heavens.

This is who the babe of Bethlehem is, dear Christians! The “highest of the kings of the earth.” Even un-Christian Herod knew it – which is precisely why he was so keen on killing the Lord of Glory, so anxious to eliminate the competition!

But make no mistake O self righteous Christian: we are Herod, too. Each of us wants to exert royal power over the people about us, and subject them to our royal wishes. We want to see the world created in our image and to our liking, and will perpetrate every act of cunning, and any bloody deed until the Psalm must be re-written to include our name where it says: “the highest of the kings of the earth.”

What? You never thought of sin in such crude terms? You should! Because this is what we do! And it is sin. It is evil. It is altogether destructive to you the perpetrator, and corrosive to everyone about you. But God condemns that. God judges and punishes that! And so unless we fall down in humility before the Lord’s humble manger, we will pay a terrible price for our delusions. Pay now, pay later, and never stop paying.

And so confess your sins for it is still Advent! It is still the season of repentance until 5:02 PM this evening when Christmas begins! and all sorrow must be banished!

“No more let sin, and sorrow reign, nor thorns infest the ground!” Because you O Advent Worshipers are the object of the Lord’s steadfast love.

“This is my beloved Son,” says the heavenly voice at the Lord’s baptism. But what the Father says about the Son at his baptism, he says about you in yours. “You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

Let each Christian confidently insert his name into that sentence because Christmas is coming! Jesus is coming! He saved you by baptism! In that mighty sacramental act he incorporated you into himself. Into his death on the cross, his burial in the tomb, and into his mighty resurrection to new and glorious life. (Romans 6:3ff) So that you are now part of the Covenant through him. The New Covenant, that is! The New Testament in his blood! And when anyone is so bonded to Jesus, he becomes a New Creation. The old things have passed away, all things are become new, and so live a new life, beginning today, because Today is the Day of Salvation!

Our Psalm also says,

I will establish his offspring forever
and his throne as the days of the heavens.

It’s one thing to create heaven on earth as humanity is ever trying to do – and sometimes even more or less succeeds for 5 minutes – but never longer. Never longer because whatever sinful man touches, crumbles.

But today the God of Advent promises what no man can, and what no religion does: to establish you forever, and it is breathtaking to ponder.

To think that our God promises to richly provide for us throughout the course of our earthly pilgrimage from cradle to grave. That he pledges to purify us, to guide, console and fortify us, and to turn the darkness into Day before us. It staggers the imagination. But the promise of the Gospel is even more.

That his steadfast love will continue to shine on us in a “world without end!” That God will care for us not only here in time, but there in eternity as well. With such knowledge, faith and confidence as this we can live! Truly live! Live for our God and serve as the blessed agents of his mercy for all humanity; and praise him in a world without end.

And so on this 4th Sunday of Advent, with Christmas just hours away, let us say with Ethan the Ezrahite who penned the 89th Psalm; and with Advent worshipers the world over:

I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever;
with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness
to all generations.” Amen.