“Hope is on the Way!”

Sermon Notes (Sunday November 29th, 2015)

Rev. Mouris Yousef, Pastor

 

Hope is on the Way!

Jeremiah 33:14-16; Luke 21:25-36

 

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. During the next four weeks we are going to reflect on the four traditional themes that are associated with this season: Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy.  So this Sunday we begin with the first theme, the hope of Advent ~ the hope of Christ’s coming. Earlier in our worship today, the Women’s Association lit the First Advent Candle, the Candle of Hope. It’s a reminder to all of us that hope is on the way. The Prophet Jeremiah and the gospel of Luke give us some great insights about the hope that is on the way. Please allow me this morning to highlight a couple important observations based on Jeremiah 33 and Luke 21:

 

First: Our Hope is Found Only in the Lord

In Jeremiah 33:14-16 we read, “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. “‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’”

 

The prophet Jeremiah preached this wonderful Advent sermon 600 years before Christ’s first coming. But it is just as wonderful to us today as it was to the “house of Israel and the house of Judah” then. Judah and Israel needed to be reminded and reassured as much as we do to continue to walk the narrow road and live by faith because the Lord always fulfills His promise. The Savior will come. God’s salvation will surly come!

 

Jeremiah lived in a time of great insecurity for the Jews due to threats to overrun them by surrounding powerful nations – the superpowers of Babylon and Assyria rumbled in the not too far off distance in the North, and Egypt was the main power to the south with Israel and Judah caught in the middle. Jeremiah’s ministry was often about warning the leaders not to put their trust in foreign alliances, but in God. The simple solution of the time was to form strategic alliances with the superpowers; yet Jeremiah’s message was much harder – to trust in God not in others.

 

We live in difficult times too: you’ve only got to listen to the news, read a paper or observe the world around us. There is war all over the world, on-going conflict and unrest in so many places, terrorism and threats from ISIS and many other groups. Where do we find hope? Where do we find security and safety? Jeremiah’s hope was based on the coming of the Lord ~ the Righteous Savior. He tells us of this One whose Advent sets His people free. Christian hope is summed up in the name Jeremiah promises us, “The Lord is our Righteous Savior.”

 

God’s people during Jeremiah’s time looked for hope in the political alliances with some of the most powerful neighbors around them. This is what we exactly do today. We make alliances with money, with health, with the stock market, with different kinds of insurance, with popularity, with beauty, and so many other things. Friends, none of these things has ever brought hope or security to those who pursued them. I hope you and I take a moment this Advent season to place our hope in the ONE who can deliver us from our fears and insecurities. How silly to regard any of these things as the end of our hope, to treat them as gods.

 

Many people heard Jeremiah’s message and rejected it because they couldn’t see beyond the present. Yet, some heard Jeremiah and they saw the glory and awesome wonder of their God. They lived in the midst of their troubles trusting the Righteous Savior who will deliver them out of them all. They sought God and looked forward to the arrival of the Savior.  We should take their example to heart.  We live in the in the present with our eyes on the hope of the future of Christ’s return. Let’s never grow apathetic to the glorious gospel and the future we have in Christ.

 

Second: Your Redemption is Drawing Near

In our reading from the gospel of Luke, Jesus talks about reading the signs of the times and being alert to the signs of the coming Kingdom ~ the coming of the Righteous Savior to use the language of Jeremiah 33:16. The coming Kingdom ~ this isn’t part of the vocabulary of most Christians today. The coming of Christ makes so many Christians today uncomfortable. Yet the Bible and the classic Creeds of the Church clearly state that Christ indeed shall return. Every time we celebrate Communion we assert, “Christ had died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” That truth is one of the oldest parts of Communion liturgy. And so this Advent as we reflect on Jesus’ coming among us as a weak helpless babe, may we also remember His return in glory.

 

Jesus foretold the coming of His Kingdom and that it will come in all its fullness at the end of time when Jesus returns. We also see the Kingdom comes every time we surrender our lives to Jesus. We see the kingdom coming every time we do what Jesus told us to do – His most famous parable of the Kingdom in Matthew 25 tells us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty and visit the imprisoned. We see the Kingdom comes every time we pursue more of Christ. In the meantime we have to be patient, watch, wait and be alert to the signs of that coming Kingdom in its fullness. Jesus is clear in this passage that His Second Coming will appear like a trap and that we should pray for the strength to stand before Him. While the signs of the coming of Jesus may bring fear to some people, for us, it is the most comfortable truth. Luke 21:28 says, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” We left up our heads and live without any kind of fear because of the righteous Branch sprout from David’s line. We are confident in His love and grace!

 

Friends, we now rejoice with Jeremiah, with Luke, and all God’s faithful through the ages. We live in the present with our eyes on the hope of Christ’s return ~ Christ came, He come to us every day, and He will come in full glory. This is our hope and this is our gift to the world. As Alexander the Great was setting out on his conquest of Asia, he inquired into the finances of his followers. To ensure that they would not be troubled over the welfare of their dependents during their absence, he distributed crown estates and revenues among them. When he had thus disposed of nearly all the royal resources, his friend General Perdiccas asked Alexander what he had reserved for himself. “Hope,” answered the king. “In that case,” said Perdiccas, “we who share in your labors will also take part in your hopes.” He then refused the estate allotted to him, and several others of the king’s friends did the same. This is the gift of hope. Remember, our true hope is only found in the Lord. Second, while everyone is so scared and fearful as they see the signs of the coming of God’s Kingdom in its fullness, remember what Jesus said: “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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