Every year we have the same religious ritual. We gorge ourselves with turkey, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole. We wash it down with beer whiskey, and football and thick gravy courses through our veins. The high from the triptophyn only lasts so long. The packers can’t pull it off – and even the Badgers are capable of disappointment. The real world comes crashing back in.
We return to mundane lives with difficult people to deal with. The excitement of thanksgiving dulls and we realize we can’t eat stuffing and pumpkin pie every day but have to settle for tomato soup and grilled cheese instead. We no longer eat in the company of friends, family, and children but now take lunch alone.
Our bosses are difficult to deal with. Our work is not appreciate. It becomes long and tedious, perhaps unfulfilling. Our critics grow and friends grow tired of our company. At school we return to the same mean bullies. And have to deal with the same embarrassments at recess.
However our biggest problem in life is not the packers, it’s not dry turkey, and it’s not even a demanding boss or rude coworkers. The biggest problem in life of course is our own sin. We are afraid of everything except God. That’s why are medicine cabinets are filled. We trust in everything except God. That’s why are closets are packed and attics are filled. And we treat God, like the strange uncle at thanksgiving – who is fine as long as you don’t get stuck next to him at the table and have to talk to him. We give him a passing glance and a grunt but not much more.
After Thanksgiving, what do we do? Buy more stuff of course. We go out and shop till we drop on black Friday - literally. Every year there is at least one person who dies in a stampede at malls and shopping centers. This year was no exception. Weeping and gnashing of teeth, as crowds stretch out their claws for video games and ipads.
But all the evil is not just with them. It’s with us too. Do we really want to notice when our children are fornicating. For the fathers out there can your children recite the ten commandments? Can you? If not, how can you expect your family to know right from wrong? The worse problem is that we have placed our hopes in the passing pleasures of this life, it’s allurements. We prefer entertainment to prayer. And to top it all of – we are satisfied with ourselves. We think we are doing just fine. We like God as long as He keeps a safe distance from us – just like the estranged uncle at Thanksgiving.
Our sins are worse than what we think. Our standing before God is not good. And his expectations are much more demanding than Santa Claus. You better watch out. He’s checking his list and he knows who is naughty and nice. God knows your secret sins. He knows your heart. But unlike Santa Clause, he won’t pass by your house. And he doesn’t reward you according to what you deserve.
You need a Savior. A Savior who will be punished for what you deserve that you would be God’s poster child. You need a God who does not just show up for one family meal a year but comes every Sunday. You need a rescue mission – an escape from all the passing allurements, and dissapointments of this life.
Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a beast of burden – a slavish animal - created to carry baggage - in this case your sins. And this God will not disappoint. He is going to die a criminals death and to be cursed with the sins of the world pressed upon his innocent head.
The people in Jerusalem cry out Hosanna…Hosanna..Honsanna in the highest. Hosanna literally means “save us now.” They are crying out save us from our sins…die for us…make atonement…make payment for our sins…save us now they cry out.
You sing the same thing every Sunday when you sing Hosanna..Hosanna…but maybe you haven’t looked in the hymnal to see what the word means. But that’s what you are praying for to be saved. For Jesus to come quickly and to save you.
This is a new year of grace. Advent is a time to set the clock back. The first week of Advent is really New Years Day in the church. A time to start fresh and open the doors of your hearts to Christ. A time to open your ears once again to the promises of God.
Our thanksgiving is even better this morning – with one another. For God rides into our church not to fill stockings but to fill hungry mouths and to gladden tired hearts. For here we gorge ourselves on the promises of God. We eat the risen body of Christ and drink his blood. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
And he heals us from all that ails us. He satisfies us. Our sports teams will nearly always disappoint but not Christ. He has already stormed the field, torn down the goal posts of hades and stormed the gates of hell. He has pulled the teeth out of death itself and has destroyed the power of the devil. All of the evil bullies have been routed.
Risen and fresh from the grave he rides into our town and places himself on our altar. He prepares for us a feast. Here you never eat alone. But you eat with angels and archangels and with all the whole company of heaven.
A child will be born in Bethlehem. He will be your judge. He is coming. And He does not come to punish you for your sins, but rather to forgive them, wipe them away, cast them as far as the east is from the west. He knows all the trouble that you are in. He knows the sorrows that depress you, he knows the tears that you secretly shed. This King is gracious and loving. He hears your prayers and your sighs. He wants to dry your tears, protect you, and finally to redeem you and lift you to heavenly places by His blessed death.
Your King who is coming is not just willing to do this but is also able to because he is the Son of God. Therefore lift up your heads and greet him. You won’t see him on a humble donkey, but in humble bread and humble wine, where he comes to bring you everlasting peace. In Jesus name. Amen.