“The reason I’m here...” Have you ever heard those words?
After exchanging polite conversation about the weather and how nice it is to have the children back in the classroom, a mother says to her daughter’s first grade teacher, “The reason I’m here...,” and then describes the bullying happening to her daughter.
After introducing himself and making sure you are the homeowner, the police officer says, “The reason I’m here...,” and goes on to inform you of complaints from the neighbors about the noise of your party.
After wheeling a machine into your hospital room and joking about how difficult it is to navigate all the visitors and the flowers, the technician says, “The reason I’m here...,” and explains the procedure of an echocardiogram.
“The reason I’m here...,” is a short phrase that helps us get to the point. It is so easy to get distracted and we can quickly lose sight of priorities. “The reason I’m here,” sets things straight and takes us to the heart of the matter.
On the first Sunday of Advent, we have a “The reason I’m here...” moment.
In case you did not notice, our gospel reading seems strange today, out of synch. Jesus is entering into Jerusalem.
If you are immersed in our world’s seasons, we are entering that crazy time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Parking lots are filled with Christmas trees, people are putting up lights, and the stores are stocked for purchases to celebrate the season of giving. In the midst of all of this, Christians are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus, God’s gift of salvation to His broken and sinful world.
So, why does the Church point to Jesus, riding into Jerusalem? Should it not be focusing on Mary and Joseph? After all, in this reading Jesus is no longer a baby but grown up. He is no longer an obscure figure but a well-known teacher. He is no longer in the womb of His mother riding into Bethlehem on a donkey but a celebrated Lord, drawing crowds of disciples, riding into Jerusalem on a colt.
The oddness of this moment, at the beginning of Advent, is God’s way of saying, “The reason I’m here...”
Advent begins the Church Year. Today is the first Sunday of a series of Sundays which will take us through the life of our Lord and into the life of His Church. As we enter that series of Sundays, the yearly remembrance of the things of God, God wants us to know the one thing that is most important: The reason He is here.
As we enter that series of Sundays, the yearly remembrance of the things of God, God wants us to know the one thing that is most important: The reason He is here.
God the Father has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to bear your sin and be your Savior. The suffering of Jesus was not an accident. It was not just what happens to a nice person who loves in a world filled with hate. It was purposeful. God the Father sent His Son into the world to defeat all the forces that oppose His Kingdom. Jesus came to bear sin and bring forgiveness, to defeat death and bring life, to conquer Satan and bring salvation.
No matter where you are in the Church Year, no matter what texts of Scripture you are reading, no matter what hymns you are singing, this is the reason why God is here: To bring you forgiveness, life, and salvation.
So, as we come before God with our complex priorities, we are invited to pause and listen. Perhaps you have changed jobs during the COVID pandemic and are trying to sort out what it means to have a different vocation. Perhaps politics have created tense relationships in your family, and you are nervous about everyone getting together this year. Perhaps your social fabric is unravelling, and you have a tough time navigating how to interact with your friends and neighbors.
Into this mess of anxiety, Jesus comes to take us to what lies at the heart of the matter: God’s love for His creatures. It may not take away the anxiety, but it sets you on solid ground. You are a child in a kingdom where God, your Father, loves you. At the heart of His love is the person of His Son. Though it leads to His death, Jesus will do the work of His Father. He will come and bear what needs to be borne, fight what needs to be fought, and die to put to death what needs to end, so He might rise and bring the beginning of life, eternal life to you.
So, in this messy world with its complex priorities, rest for a moment today. Jesus has come. Not in Jerusalem, but here. Not on a colt but in His Word. Not surrounded by crowds throwing cloaks on a road, but still surrounded by disciples. You and me. Here, in this place, Jesus comes to remind and assure us. Grace is the reason He is here.
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Luke 19:28-40.
Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Luke 19:28-40.
Lectionary Podcast- Dr. Arthur Just of Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN walks us through Luke 19:28-40.