December 12-13, 2009
Matthew 11:2-11, John 8
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Are You the Coming One or not? Do we look for another? Will You stay in heaven or come to us?Are you the Lamb of God who takes, and not just took, away the sins of the world? We have sins -- as many as those people then. We need them taken away. Are You the Lamb who takes away sins?
Have you forgotten about us? Do you know how cold it is? How sad we are? How lonely and afraid? Do you know our hearts are broken and our families are in distress? Do You know about divorce? About garnished wages? About visitation rights? Do you know about addiction and betrayal and neglect? We are hurting inside and out. Where are you?
And what of those at war, who confessed Your Name, last week and died at the hands of violent terrorists? Where were you then?
We did not see, but we have heard, that the blind once were made to see, the lame to walk, and the lepers were cleansed. We did not see, but we heard, that the dead were raised.
So, too, we have heard your Gospel with our own ears. Though we are poor, not much noticed in this city or state or country, though we are not important or powerful or famous, Your Gospel has been preached to us. We have heard what others saw.
We have heard the Good News of Your coming in the Flesh, of angelic choirs singing to Shepherds, of wise men coming from the East. We have heard of Herod's wicked jealousy, of a nighttime flight to Egypt, and of a detour back to Nazareth. We have heard that you were Baptized by John and crossed the Jordan. We have heard the heavens were opened, that the Spirit lit upon You, and that the Father said, “This is My Son with whom I am well-pleased. Listen to Him.” We have heard. We are listening. Are you the Coming One or not?
We have heard how You endured temptations in the desert, how the crowds followed You while you taught and healed and fed them. We have heard of those you loved: of John and James and Peter, of Mary and Martha and Lazarus. Do You also love us? Do you weep when we die? Are You the Coming One? Are You coming?
We have heard you were betrayed by a friend, a man you loved, perhaps he was a zealot, over-eager for the end, pushing You to do do what You came to do. Did he lose his faith because You did not move fast enough to satisfy his fallen flesh? Did his remorse, his feeble attempt to give the money back, make you weep as you wept for Jerusalem? And when his intestines spilled out onto the ground, when the devil finally had his way with him, did that small justice make the betrayal any less? Are You the Coming One? Like Judas we have waited. When will You show Your hand? When will You take up Your power and reign? We are besought with temptations and doubt. This is a dangerous place for faith. What will keep us from Judas' fate? When will we be free?
We have heard how You suffered, of sweat like blood and cups of Wrath. We have heard of soldier's scourges and crossed beams outside the city gates. We have heard of pain and sorrow and a desire to gather like a hen gathers her chicks to herself, and of grief for a city that knows not what makes for peace. We have heard how you groaned and died. We know the promise: “Today you will be with me in Paradise,” the gentle care You showed, “Woman, here is your son.” We know the cries: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” and “I thirst.” We have heard You said: “It is finished” and then commended Your Spirit into Your Father's hands. You went to Him. Will You come to us?
We have heard how the centurion sank his killing spear into Your side to make sure that You were dead. We have heard that blood and water came out, that Your Life poured on him and that he said “Surely this Man was the Son of a God.” Are you still the Son of God? We have heard the Temple veil was torn in two and the dead of Jerusalem got up alive. We have heard that you were laid to rest in Joseph's tomb hewn from virgin rock. Nietzsche wasn't the first to say that God was dead. You were dead, and buried, and thus Your Coming in the Flesh came to an end.
Will You now come to us? For we have heard the tomb was empty but for the burial clothes three days after You were put to death. We have heard of unused myrrh and women full of fear. We have heard that You were thought a gardener and that You opened eyes in Emmaus at the breaking of the bread. We have heard how you breathed the Spirit out into the Apostles and bestowed peace upon them. We have heard that You gave them the keys to heaven and sent them to open it for men, to preach and to baptize, to make disciples of all the creatures of the earth.
We have heard, by their preaching and their writing, what others saw. We have been absolved at their hands, had the keys applied to us, and heard Your Voice in them. And now we ask again: Are You the Coming One or not? Will You come to us? Will you open our eyes, give motion to our lame limbs, put words of praise into our mouths, and cleanse us of all our sins? Will you bestow the peace that passes all understanding? Will You make us the friends of God again? Will you preach to us poor sinners Good News of righteousness? Will you makes us Yours and remember promises made to Abraham for our good? Will you give us faith, see us through, teach us to wait and hope and pray and lift up our heads as the end draws near? Will You be Our Lord? Will You come to us?
Are you the Coming One, O Lord? Are You coming for us as You came for them?
Yes. You are. Though we are weak, though we are frustrated and unsure and full of doubt, though we are dying and afflicted by death, by Your grace we believe that You are. You come in Word. You come in Sacrament. You come to and for us. You take away our sins. You make us Yours. We are Yours. There is much we do not know and do not understand, but we are Yours. We have heard Your Voice. It has spoken us clean. We are washed in Your Blood. We are joined to You in the Holy Communion. We are Yours! Give us patience, Lord. Give us Faith. And come Lord Jesus. Come quickly! Amen.