In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
God is life. He is its source. He is the one who calls all things into being and gives all things meaning and purpose. For He is love. Love is our purpose. We are here to lovingly serve each other. To pour ourselves out for each other.
Even a life cut short touches and changes for the better those who experience that person. Even the tragedy of death gives us opportunities to love and support each other. Especially in the midst of death we must love and support each other. That’s when our love is tested to see if it truly love or not.
But we long for purpose. And in our twisted hearts more often than not that means we crave power, importance, recognition, fame, the adulation of the masses. Repent.
That’s what Israel wanted. In their sinful desire they always misunderstood God’s intent and promises. And so do we. God says you shall dwell securely. We think that means we will have mighty armies so that no one dares attack us. But what God means is that some day He will bring all hostility to an end. And there will be peace. True peace.
But we, like they, will exchange this promised peace for fame, for importance in the here and now. For a little scrap of affection now from someone who will use us, we’ll give up the eternal love of the Father who made us. Our quest for meaning is really a search for our Heavenly Father’s love. But even this our sin twists so that we settle for short term placebos rather than the real thing. Repent.
For our Father prophesied this eternal peace would come through His king whom He would send to us. And His king has come. He has brought peace to earth. Not a complete peace from all war and bloodshed yet. That complete peace is yet to come when He comes a second time. But in the here and now He has brought a more important peace: peace with God. True peace comes from the inside out. It is always built on the foundation of peace with God in your own conscience and being.
And God your Father has sent His king and conquered the cause of war and sin by putting all sin on that king. By humbling that king. By sending Him to die. To be a beast of burden. Ferried to the cross not by a kingly war horse, but by a donkey, an ass, an animal without honour or glory, whose purpose is simply to carry burdens.
This is our king. A burden bearing king. Not proud, not mighty, but lowly and gentle. Taking on your burden. Taking on your sin. Truly He was a king, a king to be worshiped. The crowds in faith recognized that. But the time for triumph was not yet. For He had not yet fought His battle. He had not yet defeated Satan by disarming Him of all the sins He loves to throw in our faces. He had not yet torn up the record book and the accusations against us by paying them with His own life blood. So the time for the triumph of Easter had not yet come. So He came lowly. Gently. To sinners. To take their sin from them. To unburden them as He carried their burdens to the cross.
This is why our king came. This is what Christmas means. It is not just a joyous birth, nor a celebration of a pretty baby, but the coming of a burden bearer. One who loves you so completely that He pours His life out for you. One whose purpose is to serve you by taking your burdens. To carry such a torch for you that He must do all in His power to have you as His own. To take your burden of sin and suffering all the way to the cross. To love you till the very end.
To give your life meaning and purpose by His coming. For having been loved in such a way, that it cut His perfect life short, His life changes you. It gives meaning, purpose. It is a life no longer lived for your sinful desires to gratify them. For though you have searched for it, there is no meaning in gratifying your sinful desires, only emptiness and death. But in His life giving death your life has meaning, purpose, for you have been loved by the Almighty! Your life is a life laid down in honour of the one who bore your burdens to the cross.
So this Advent cast off those burdens by casting them on your burden bearing King. Don’t live in guilt or shame anymore. Cast your burdens on Christ. Lay them down at His feet. Better yet, place them on your Burden Bearer recognizing that He has already taken them to the cross. Cast off those soiled rags of sin and instead be clothed in the armour of light that He gives.
For this is why your King came the first time. And He shall come again, this time in glory, to bring to complete fulfillment the peace He has won on the cross.
In Jesus name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON