Grace By Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, Norfolk
Jesus comes meek and lowly
The people loved Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. They welcomed him. They shouted, “Hosanna”, meaning, save us Lord. But where were they only days later, when Christ was captured and beaten? Where were they when the crowd shouted to crucify him? How did things go so wrong, so quickly? Why did it seem like all of Jerusalem turned against Christ?
He wasn’t what they wanted after all. He did not bring back power to Israel like many desired. He did not remove the evil King Caesar. He did not take away everything that made life hard for them. He certainly did not look like a king, hanging on a cross. “If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.”
Jesus came in the way we needed. He rides on a donkey to show that he comes in peace, meekness, and gentleness. He hides his great power, because he doesn’t come to intimidate or to force his will on anyone. He doesn’t come to condemn us for our many sins. He came to take our sin upon himself. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.”
“Behold, thy King cometh unto thee.” The King of all kings and Lord of all lords comes into our heart gently with words of forgiveness. He comes with the peace of God, which the world cannot give. He invites all to believe in him and find rest in his promises. He still comes meek and lowly just as he came riding into Jerusalem on a lowly donkey.
— The Rev. Wyatt Rosebrock
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Norfolk
Have you put your Christmas lights up yet? Do you refuse to move on to Christmas until after Thanksgiving? In the church we face some of the same challenges. We want to look past the Advent season and go right to Christmas. It’s understandable, what is Advent even about? We want to sing Christmas songs, but we end up singing Advent songs, some of which are pretty clunky. Now that I have alienated my colleagues and “music people,” I believe that this time of preparation for Advent is precious. We are not only preparing for the coming of the Christ child, but we are preparing for Jesus Christ’ second coming. The Gospel from Luke this week reminds us that we need to be ready.
Jesus said, “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving and may you be “prepared” for all that comes your way!
— Randy Rasmussen, pastor
First Presbyterian Church, Norfolk
Peace on Earth
We are now in the “countdown season” of Advent. In our bible readings from this season of the year, we can anticipate prophetic scriptures of various types, culminating in the celebration of the coming of Jesus.
But those prophecies involve different wishes, desires and hopes. Some are concerned with justice, some with freedom, and some with healing, among others. And thus in this Sunday’s scripture from Isaiah, we see an expressed desire for peace, and a bold assertion that it will come.
But what is the source of Isaiah’s confidence that peace will come? It certainly is not a faith in the perfectibility of humankind, even though the message is good news for all people. No, the source of a coming peace is God, not human beings. And in his pronouncement, Isaiah makes use of perhaps the most famous and descriptive image of peace that is to be found anywhere.
You are welcome to join us in worship this First Sunday of Advent, beginning the joyous countdown to Christmas.
— The Rev. Brian Johnson