Malagasy Lutheran Church Song & Gospel Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 19 – 25, 2021 « Rejoice for the Messiah has come » *

The message: « Rejoice for the Messiah has come », Jesus Christ, the One who is Anointed to bring salvation for you, as it is written: « […] You are to give him the name Jesus,[which means the Lord saves] because he will save his people from their sins » Mt 1:21. God’s purpose in His coming, for which Jesus as a Child took on our likeness and dwelt among us, is that our joy may be complete, us the people whom He has acquired to be his special possession. Jesus emphasizes this, saying: « Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete » Jn 16:24b. In this way, God wants us to have not only ephemeral and short-lived pleasures, such as feasting and the like, but complete joy, full joy, so that no other source of joy will be sought or may still prevail in our hearts, other than our joy in God and with God alone. This will cause us to cling to God and to love Him, in such a way as to fulfill His commandments: « You shall have no other gods besides me » Ex 20:3. Thus, God commands us, His people, to rejoice. For our willingness and agreement to rejoice mean our glorification of God, and a sign of the good health of our faithlife. « Believing » is in fact inseparable from the joy that results from the victory through faith, as the Apostle John said: « And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? » 1 Jn 5:4-5. In fact, who will believe or would be willing to believe, if there is no sure source for joy from that faith? Believers rejoice in the coming of their Lord. That is the supreme gift from God, to be rejoiced in. The coming of Jesus does in no way augur any disaster; it instead heralds Salvation, as the angel said to the shepherds: « Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord » Lk 2:10-11.

Monday 20: Rejoice for the Messiah has come, a shining light for the world. « Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord » Isa 2:5. Reading 1: Rev 21:22-27. Reading 2: Isa 2:2-5. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Isa 2:5. Introduction: Two major promises in Scripture describe the coming of Jesus Christ; as it is written: « The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined » Isa 9:2. Therefore, « Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you » Isa 60:1-2.

Tuesday 21: Rejoice in the Messiah, the God of your salvation. « Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice » Phil 4:4. Reading 1: Jn 3:22-30. Reading 2: Phil 4:4-7. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Phil 4:4. Introduction: Those who rejoice in God, who is both their Creator and Savior, are so blessed. This is a great guarantee of salvation and of a blessing that will never be shaken. The Apostle Paul exhorts us, writing: « So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God » Col 3:1-3.

Wednesday 22: The upright in heart will see the Messiah. « ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’as the prophet Isaiah said » Jn 1:23. Reading 1: Hab 2:3-11. Reading 2: Jn 1:19-28. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Jn 1:23. Introduction: God would like all eyes to see His coming and all people to meet Him in order to receive His salvation. It is the Great Lord who comes to us and He is most worthy that we prepare ourselves, as it is written: « Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully. They will receive blessing from the Lord, and vindication from the God of their salvation » Ps 24:3-5.

Thursday 23: Rejoice that the Messiah, your Lord, has come. « […] So that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete » Jn 15:11. Reading 1: Jer 31:10-14. Reading 2: Jn 15:9-14. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Jn 15:11. Introduction: God has made common cause with His chosen people, sharing inheritance and kingdom with them, and He has spared nothing for them (Rom 8:32). For it is written: « And if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him » Rom 8:17. Therefore, « When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory » Col 3:4.

Friday 24: Celebrate the Messiah the Savior, the King of Peace. « Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord » Mt 23:39b. Reading 1: Mic 5:1-3. Reading 2: Mt 23:34-39. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Mt 23: 39b. Introduction: God gave us His Messiah, a Savior who came for us, so that we may give Him thanksgiving and praise, and celebrate His Glory. We join our voices with those of the saint angels, shouting: « Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors » Lk 2:14.

Saturday 25: CHRISTMAS, JOY FOR ALL. « To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord » Lk 2:11b. Reading 1: Isa 7:10-14 / Heb 1:1-5. Reading 2: Lk 2:1-14. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Lk 2:10-11. Introduction: The coming of the Messiah to save Israel was the fulfillment of their hope; nonetheless, God also meant it to be an assurance and hope for all the inhabitants of the earth. For it is written: « And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength—he says, It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth » Isa 49:5-6.

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