Malagasy Lutheran Church Song & Gospel Third Sunday of Advent – week of 14.-19. December 2020

“God visits His people”

“God visits His people.” That is a most enjoyable word. What does it say? Mercy, peace, forgiveness, consolation, restoration to be His people again, preparation for the renewing of His covenant which says: « I will be your God, and you shall be my people » Jer 7:23b. This word says indeed that God does not keep a record of sins, neither does He retain his anger, because He delights in mercy (Hos 6:6); a mercy that He maintains towards His people according to what is written: « In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer » Isa 54:8. And since God does not abandon men in order not to let them perish, He sent the Messiah to forgive their sins and to reconcile them to their Father. This is the greatest demonstration of love; it also shows the wisdom of God, as « anger that builds up peace, but love does. » Therefore He offered Christ His Son to fulfil the work of redemption, namely forgiveness of sin and destruction of the wall of separation resulting from sin. Indeed, it is written: « In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” 2 Cor 5:19a. So the gospel affirms: « while we still were sinners, He already forgave our sins in Christ who died for us” (Rom 5:8). And He still is willing to truly forgive our sins so that we will not die nor perish (Is 55:7). To this end, He urges us to turn to Him and to walk the life-giving way of life, according to His word: « As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live » Ezek 33:11a. Let our heart be visited by God, as Jesus says: « Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me » Rev 3:20. This is Emmanuel’s visitation to us, which means, “God is with us” Mt 1:23c.

Monday 14: God visits His people.
« Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid » Isa 40:2a.
Reading 1: Mt 1:18-25. Reading 2: Isa 40:1-2. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Isa 40:2a.
Introduction: It is neither with sword, nor with a threat of danger, nor for the judgment of sin, but proclaiming Good News that God visits His people. In truth, this is the message of the Gospel, according to Jesus’ statement: « Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him » Jn 3:17. The Messiah, Emmanuel, has indeed come to us, which means, “God is with us” Mt 1:23c.

Tuesday 15.: Be confident that the Messiah is coming.
« For the mouth of the Lord has spoken » Isa 40:5b.
Reading 1: Mt 1:18-25. Reading 2: Isa 40:3-8. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Isa 40:5.
Introduction: The coming of the Messiah, the Lord’s Anointed, had been long awaited. If Isaiah had prophesied about 830 years before the coming of Jesus, saying, « For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders » Isa 9:6, the angel confirmed its fulfilment by telling Joseph about his wife Mary:  » She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins » Mt 1:21.

Wednesday 16: The Messiah comes to comfort His people.
« Say to the cities of Judah, Here is your God! » Isa 40:9.
Reading 1: Mt 9:32-38. Reading 2: Isa 40:9-10. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Isa 40:9.
Introduction: God does not abandon men, not wanting them to perish, so He sent His Anointed Messiah to seek and to save them (Lk 19:10). The coming of the Messiah is surely a great consolation for Israel; it means that God has not forgotten them; particularly, in the hard times they went through and endured. Shortly before His suffering, Jesus said to His disciples in order to exhort and to comfort them: « I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you » Jn 14:18, « your pain will turn into joy » Jn 16:20b.

Thursday 17: God prepares His people for His coming.
« He will purify the descendants of Levi » Mal.3:3b.
Reading 1: Ezek.36:24-27. Reading 2: Mal.3:1-4. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Mal.3:3.
Introduction: The Lord is to be received with a new and purified heart. In this regard, Jesus says: « Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God » Mt 5:8; for without holiness, « no one will see the Lord » (Heb 12:14b). This is how David prayed: « Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me » Ps 51:10.

Friday 18: Get ready to welcome the Lord.
« Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight » Lk 3:4b.
Reading 1: 1 Pet 2:1-5. Reading 2: Lk 3:1-6. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Lk 3:3-4.
Introduction: Certainly, Jesus will come to visit and to take those who are His to be with Him (Mt 25:34), and to grant them entry into His kingdom (Jn 10:16). However, He makes it clear that “the righteous are those who will inherit His kingdom,” that is, those who do the will of the Father and walk in the way of the truth according to God. But « Outside are…everyone who loves and practices falsehood » Rev 22:15a,d. Still, He is willing to justify the repentant sinner, to whom He will say: « Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven » Mt 9:2b.

Saturday 19: Jesus has come to you.
 » Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking… » Rev 3:20a.
Reading 1: Lk 24:28-43. Reading 2: Rev 3:14-20. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Rev 3:20a.
Introduction: The Holy Scripture says that “Jesus is the Savior of the world” Jn 4:42c. As such, He travelled about from one village to another, proclaiming the Gospel of the salvation and teaching patiently the crowd that followed Him. Yet He made a point of getting in contact with those who sought Him and came to Him to be saved. Thus, all He wants is to be able to tell them: « Neither do I condemn you » Jn 8:11, « Your faith has made you well » Mar 10:52.

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