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Private Confession: By Appointment

The Dance

November 27, 2021 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
November 28, 2021
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Advent 1
The Dance

28 Now after Jesus had said these things he led the ascent to Jerusalem. 29 And when he approached Bethphage and Bethany on Olive Mountain he sent out two of the disciples 30 with this instruction: "Go into the village before you where you will find a colt tied up in waiting, upon which no man has ever sat; untie him and bring him here. 31 And if anyone asks you, 'why are you untying him?' Say this, "Because the Lord has need of him." 32 So those whom he sent, went and found things as he said, 33 And while they were untying the colt its masters said to them, 'Why are you untying the colt?' 34 And they said, "Because the Lord has need of him." 35 And they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks upon it, and set Jesus on it.

36 And as he rode along they SPREAD their cloaks on the road, and as he was drawing near to Jerusalem already descending from Olive Mountain the whole multitude of disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a booming voice for all the mighty works they had seen 38 saying, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven, and glory in the Highest.

39 And some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to him, "Teacher! rebuke your disciples!" 40 But he answered, "I tell you that if they should remain silent, the rocks themselves would cry out." (Luke 19:28-40, DKV)

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It is good to know the Scriptures. Good to learn what our God has done for our salvation. No one could have guessed in a thousand years what would be necessary to redeem God’s Creation.

No one could have known or guessed or figured that the Father would send the Son to be the scape-goat for us all. Or that he would be empowered by the mightiest power source that ever was – the Holy Spirit – so that he could do and bear all that needed to be done. To go to Jerusalem and suffer a fate so ghastly that in the Garden of Gethsemane he did not sweat water. Not water but great droplets of blood! Divine Blood, the only soap that can wash away the deadly stain of sin from us.

That was the second time the Savior shed his blood for us. The first was at his circumcision, and now in Gethsemane. But these were both preliminary to Calvary where his blood would be separated from his flesh, just like an Old Testament sacrifice, to restore communion with God.

Yes, it is good to know the Scriptures, that must come first. Dancing lessons before dancing. Music lessons before recital. But today we are in the recital, today we are at the dance. Now it’s not just theory and repetitions, but today we factually participate in the events we read about in today’s gospel. Participate by this very Divine Liturgy we offer, along with Christ, to his Father and our Father; his God and our God. (Jn. 20:17)

Today we are the vast crowd that follows Jesus to the New Jerusalem where we commune with God through him. Where is that Jerusalem? You are in its confines now. It is this Holy House, these Holy Precincts.

As we enter each Sunday, leaving behind all earthly cares, (and all earthly food and drink – let the hearer understand) … we are on the Mount of Olives which is the staging area. We hear Jesus give orders that will orchestrate “the beginning of the End.” Orders ordained in eternity, regarding a donkey; and its owners who are called its “lords” by St. Luke. Lords who willingly gave over this Donkey to the One, True Lord to begin the liturgy of salvation.

It was not good fortune, or even a simple miracle that things worked out this way. But a liturgy that was planned in eternity “for us men and for our salvation.” The liturgy of the Lord’s enthronement on the Cross by which he “lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.”

The staging area is The Mount of Olives, which is better called Olive Mountain. It is called that for the same reason the Rocky Mountains are called “rocky.” As they are marked by rocks scattered all about; even so Olive Mountain was known for its olive trees, and for the oil that comes from them.

If you follow the element of oil throughout Scripture: from the dove bringing the olive branch back to the ark, to inform Noah that the flood was receding; to the Holy Spirit anointing Jesus at his baptism, you learn that oil is the “sacramental” element of the Holy Spirit, even as water is of baptism, incense of prayer, and bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper

That is where the staging area was, on Olive Mountain which amazingly is higher in elevation by 120 feet than Jerusalem … which is supposed to be the highest mountain in Israel. But the Holy Spirit trumps all mountains. And so as Jesus “ascended” to Olive Mountain, where he was filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit, we ascend by our baptism into the church.

And then, S. Luke tells us, he “descended” into Jerusalem, riding on a beast of burden. A colt which, by definition, was at least one year old but had never before been sat upon by a man. No, this one was chosen an reserved because its maiden voyage was to bear Jesus, who bore the weight of the sins of the world. A donkey delivering a lamb! The Lamb of God that lifts away the smothering weight, and the toxic cloud of the world's sin.

Well what could possibly be the response to all of this? If those who saw it did not cry out with thunderous cries of “glory, laud and honor,” then the very rocks themselves would arise, be fitted with mouths and vocal cords, but not divine knowledge because they already know what so many do not! That Jesus is Lord! The rocks would have sung the liturgy that we sing: Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

And that is our focus during these 4 blessed weeks of Advent, which means “to come”. The coming of our Lord to be born among us anew. Not now in a manger, but by his Word in our ears, and on the altar, in the consecrated Bread and Wine. Also take note of how our liturgy is the same as the one described in St. Luke. As Jesus led the way to Jerusalem, he leads the way to the Father in heaven, where there is a mansion reserved in your name.

We see it in the elevation of the Body and Blood. When the celebrant elevates these he is showing that Jesus is the leader of the procession, followed by the “called and ordained servant of the Word,” followed by all who come forward to receive the “priceless treasure” of heaven and earth. The cleansing blood of Christ. The medicine of immortality. Joy for every sorrow, truth for every lie, calm for every jolt, and peace for every war.

But actually there is one segment of the procession we did not yet mention. St. Paul talks about it in today’s epistle. He talks about “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” (1 Thes. 3:13)

It is doubtful he has the 2nd Coming in mind. But far more likely the Eucharist that the Thessalonians would celebrate that Sunday after S. Paul’s sermon was over. And so it is not only Jesus who comes to this church and to this altar today in Flesh and Blood, but the whole company of the saints as well.

Who are they? Among them are the “lords” who gave their colt over to the Lord, who had need of it to put salvation into motion. And the disciples who went into the village to collect the Colt. All those who bellowed out with divine voice, “Blessed is he, the King, who comes in the name of the Lord.”

And let us also remember the latest saints, your beloved who have fallen asleep in the Lord. They too come with Jesus into the church to commune with us; so that when we confess that we believe in “The Communion of Saints” we aren’t just talking. But confessing the faith of faiths, and the Lord of lords who brings Justice and Righteousness to all the earth. Amen