Malagasy Lutheran Church Song & Gospel First Sunday of Advent, November 29 – December 4, 2021 “God visits His people” *

The message: The phrase « God visits His people » points primarily at Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh who dwelt and lived among us, in order to bring us salvation. It is the fulfillment of God’s long-held promise of the coming of the Messiah, according to Jesus’ reading of the words about the Servant of the LORD who came to deliver the captives and the oppressed (Isa.61:1-2), when He spoke openly in the Synagogue of Nazareth: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” Lk.4:21b. This clearly states that God did not dwell among His people but became a stranger to them, and that His people also walked and lived far from Him despite the Covenant the Lord had made with them according to His word: “I will be their God, and they shall be my people” Jer.31:33. But it also shows that God does not forget His people. He therefore visits them out of His love and mercy, because He sees the misery of His people who are caught into a deep distress because of their separation from Him; and He hears their cry, and comes to rescue them. This is in the same way as He already called Moses long ago, to deliver His people Israel from the Egyptian bondage (Ex.3:9-10). God’s visit reveals to us that He is not yet done with us, His people, despite the fact that we have broken His covenant, but He is still ready to forgive our sins. Thus He corrects us for our disobedience and turning away from Him, but does not exterminate us (2 Sam.7:14-15). So, God’s proclamation of His visit requires our consciousness to return to Him, a forsaking of the sin that separates us from Him (Isa.59:1-2), so that we may be reconciled with Him again. For He promises, not only to forgive us and cover our sins, but also to eradicate the very root of our sins and afflictions, namely our hearts of stone, and, therefore, renew us, according to His word: “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” Ezek.36:26.

Monday 28: God visits his people, in fulfillment of his promises. “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made” Jer.33:14a. Reading 1: Lk.1:26-38. Reading 2: Jer.33:14-18. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Jer.33:14-15.

Introduction: God promised to save mankind from the death caused by their sins, and He did so through His Son, Jesus Christ. For nothing can prevent the word of God from being fulfilled, even though heaven and earth will pass away (Matt.24:35). He said: “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it” Isa:55:10-11.

Tuesday 29: God visits His people, to bring them salvation. “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you […]” Matt.21:5a. Reading 1: Isa.62:10-12. Reading 2: Matt.21:1-9. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Matt.21:5.

Introduction: God does visit His people because He does not forsake those who are His. He comes to them in glory in His kingship, as a King proclaiming peace, kinship and love, for their salvation. For it is written: “he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” Isa. 9:6b-7.

Wednesday 1st: God visits his people, and makes His glory shine upon them. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” Isa. 9:2a. Reading 1: Jn.11:1-10. Reading 2: Isa.9:2-5. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Isa.9:2.

Introduction: Jesus Christ coming to His people is a great rising light that brings healing for them (Mal.3:20 CJB). This is a guarantee for all who believe in Him, for it is written: “When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory” Col.3:4. Those who have met Jesus Christ and believe and accept Him as Lord and Savior of their lives no longer remain in the darkness which is the fear of death and the despair resulting from the separation from God. Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” Jn.8:12.

Thursday 2nd: God visits His people and renews His covenant with them. “I will be their God, and they shall be my people” Jer. 31:33b. Reading 1: 2 Cor.6:14-18. Reading 2: Jer.31:31-34. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Jer.31:34.

Introduction: God’s visit is a day when He brings His people back to Him, so that he may renew His covenant with them. Here is what is written about the suffering of those whom God’s grace has left as a result of disobeying and forgetting Him: “A voice on the bare heights is heard, the plaintive weeping of Israel’s children, because they have perverted their way, they have forgotten the Lord their God”. Yet, the Lord says to them: “Return, O faithless children, I will heal your faithlessness”. And His people will respond to Him, saying: “Here we come to you; for you are the Lord our God” Jer.3:21-22.

Friday 03rd: Jesus Christ the King visits His people, so prepare to receive Him. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desire” Rom. 13:14. Reading 1: Matt.24:35-44. Reading 2: Rom.13:11-14. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Rom.13:14.

Introduction: Meeting the Lord and receiving Him requires preparation; it needs self-examination: am I ready? For He is a great King, who brings salvation to the world, but also judgment for those who willfully disbelieve and ignore His salvation (Mark 16:16). The Scripture says: “be reconciled to God. For our sake he made [Jesus Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” 2 Cor.5:20b-21.

Saturday 04: Believe in Jesus Christ the Savior who came for you. “You will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he” Jn.8:24b. Reading 1: Heb.3:7-14. Reading 2: Jn.8:12-24. Preaching 1 free choice). Preaching 2: Jn.8:24.

Introduction: The Good News of God’s salvation has indeed been given to us through Jesus Christ. He came into the world to forgive our sins, to reconcile us with the Father, and to revive and raise us to eternal life, if we believe in Him as it is written: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” Jn. 3:16.Therefore, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” Act.16:31.

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