날짜: 2018년 12월 2일
제목: 위로의 주님을 기다립니다
올리브연합감리교회 김배선 목사
20181202 Sunday Worship Sermon
“Waiting for the Lord, our Comforter”
According to the church calendar, today marks the first Sunday of Advent.
Starting today, the Christmas season begins.
We will be lighting an advent candle every week for the whole month.
On Christmas Sunday we will light the center candle we refer to as Christ candle.
The word “Advent” means “waiting”.
Advent is the season when we wait for the coming of Jesus Christ.
Today, I would like to spend time thinking about the coming Jesus as we worship on this first Sunday of Advent.
There are many signs that Christmas is just around the corner.
What are these signs?
What are some things that put us on notice that Christmas is near.
You are probably thinking that you first realize the beginning of the Christmas season as you catch sight of decorations and advertisements in shopping malls and streets.
However, I think that the first way that informs us that Christmas season is coming near is the music.
We realize that we are nearing the Christmas season when we turn on the radio and hear music related to Christmas.
In this sense, I think that among us, our choir members are the first people who prepare and experience the Christmas season.
Yes, they have practiced the Christmas Cantata from October.
There are many holidays and anniversaries that we celebrate throughout the year.
However, there are no holidays that are more closely related to music than Christmas.
We celebrate our Independence Day as one of the most important federal holidays, but I don’t know if there are specific songs that make us realize that Independence Day is approaching.
Two weeks ago, we celebrated Thanksgiving.
At churches, people sing hymns to thank God for all the things that we are thankful for, but I don’t remember hearing any songs to inform us that Thanksgiving day is near.
This applies to other seasons in the church calendar as well.
Do you remember hearing songs related to Easter to inform us that Easter is approaching?
I am sure the answer is “no”.
It seems as though the Christmas season is unique in that it is filled with songs and hymns that inform us that the season is approaching.
Perhaps, the Christmas season is the season to confess and praise the Lord for His love and grace, and share happiness with other people through music just like when a great company of angels appeared to praise the birth of Jesus according to the Gospel of Luke.
I would like to ask you a question.
Do you know the most played music during the Christmas season?
It is a classical music.
What is the most played music during the Christmas season?
I think it is Oratorio, “Messiah,” written by Handel.
I am sure everyone heard this music at least once before, I am sure there are some of you that sang or played it.
Oratorio Messiah is comprised of 53 songs and music that are separated into three parts.
The Part I covers the prophecy and the birth of the Messiah,
Part II covers His works and suffering,
and Part III covers His resurrection and eternal life.
The first piece of Messiah is prelude.
The second piece is titled “Comfort Ye, my people”.
You can find the lyrics of this second piece in the book of Isaiah, Chapter 40.
“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people… Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; the crooked straight, and the rough places plain”. (Isaiah 40:1,4)
Handel introduced God’s message through this first vocal piece of this oratorio which contained His promise to comfort His people.
By now, I am sure you realized why I explained about Handel’s “Messiah”.
While it delivers the promise of the coming of the Messiah to this world, it also tells a story that the Messiah came to the world to comfort His people.
The coming of the Messiah, which we’ve been anxiously waiting, begins with our Lord comforting His people.
Our Savior is coming to the earth to comfort those who have been the servants of sin, who have been lost, who are living in sadness, despair, and fear.
What will the Messiah do when He comes?
Especially, the Israelites who waited for the Messiah more than anyone.
For a long time, they dreamt the day that the Messiah will come to save them.
They expected the Messiah that was almighty.
Their Messiah would be so strong that the Israelites will be saved from the grasp of the Roman Empire.
To the Israelites, God’s first message proclaimed by Isaiah was that the Messiah’s first work is to comfort His people.
This was the first prophecy when he declared that the Messiah will come to the world.
Now, God has decided to save His children who left Him, He extended his hands to us in order to be in peace with us again.
The heavenly voice proclaimed that God has decided to send his beloved Son as the Messiah to save and comfort His children.
I am pretty certain that you find yourselves in conflicts with those very close to you.
Husbands and wives argue with each other; in some cases, they don’t talk to each other for a day, two days or sometimes many days.
This usually results in a “cold war.”
This could go on for a while.
However, they all reconcile at the end.
Then, who should first seek to reconcile?
Who should first try to make peace?
Usually, a person who is more generous and has more love tends to extend his or her hands to make peace with the other person.
Think about it.
There is a huge gap between our relationship with God.
There is a tension between God and us.
Although it is clear to God that we are in the wrong, we do not realize it.
We are staunch, there is no sign of submission.
We say to God, “I haven’t done anything wrong… What have I done that is so wrong?”
We live our lives with our heads held high as if we haven’t done anything wrong, as if we are perfect.
So, God extended His hands to us even though He did not see any sign of submission or transformation.
He wanted to make peace with us not because He wronged us, but because He loves us, because He is generous, and because He is merciful.
Surprisingly, His first act of reconciliation is to comfort us, to console us.
Let us ponder this for a moment.
When you try to make peace with someone, and you continue to dwell on what had happened, the relationship will only worsen and there will no longer be any chances of reconciliation.
In order to make peace and reconcile, we must start with comforting words to console the other person.
We have to caress the broken heart.
In order to restore the relationship with us, Our God extended His hands to us.
In His gesture, there is a message which says “I will comfort you” and “I will save you”.
It is the season when the praise and message of comfort are resonated throughout the world.
Thus, the Christmas season is the season of consolation and compassion.
Today, we read God’s words from the book of Ezekiel.
In today’s text, Ezekiel declared that the Messiah, who will come soon, is the long-awaited good shepherd who will rescue His people.
What is the duty of a shepherd?
Does he exist to scold his flock?
A shepherd exists to take care of his flock, to protect them from dangers and take them to a green pasture to feed them.
There were many who claimed to be shepherds of the people during the time of Ezekiel.
They were not interested in helping their flocks, but only concerned about their self-interests.
We have to understand that the good shepherd that is promised to us is nothing like these self-proclaimed shepherds.
Verse 12 says, “As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.”
The Messiah, who is scheduled to return, comes to rescue His scattered flock.
Prophet Ezekiel declared that He is coming to look after us during the darkest times, He is coming to save all His people who are lost in the darkness.
The good shepherd does not come to pass His judgments on His flock.
He is not coming to condemn any of His flock.
The good shepherd comes to comfort us.
He is coming to the earth to embrace us, even those who went astray.
He is coming to build a shelter on top of a mountain where His flock can rest without any fear of danger.
Our Lord comes to us as the good shepherd to comfort and protect us.
So, the message of consolation is declared to us through the good shepherd, “I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak…” (verse 16)
Brothers and sisters, the Christmas season started already.
This season is a blessed and graceful season when we celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ.
The reason why this season is graceful is because our Lord Savior is the true comforter who provides consolation to all of us.
Our Lord, who saves us from our sins, who tends our wounds, who cures our diseases, who gives hope and consoles our saddened hearts… because we are waiting for our Lord, we are joyful during this season.
Our Lord will be coming soon and He will stand by our side and comfort us.
We’ve entered the season of Advent.
Do you have any heavy burdens in your life?
Let’s wait for our Lord who will lift our burdens.
He speaks to us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28)
It is a time for us to prepare for the coming of our Lord.
I hope that we will anxiously anticipate for the coming of the Lord of consolation.
Furthermore, I hope that we spread the message of the Messiah.
It is the season for us to share the message of consolation that we have received from our Lord with others.
I hope that we all become messengers of consolation.
Please, do not forget that to comfort others is the precious gift and privilege that have been given to Christians.
We are not to condemn anyone.
Our duty is not to pass judgments.
We shouldn’t criticize our people.
Our work is to receive our Lord’s consolation and share it with others.
Brothers and sisters, just comfort those who are suffering from sadness.
Console those who are sick and those who are in despair.
Share the words of consolation, such as “I love you, I am praying for you, and I want to embrace you.”
Yes, the most precious message is the message of consolation.
The most valuable message is the message that shares one’s hope.
No matter who we meet, the first thing we must do is to comfort them and share the burden of their sadness and suffering.
Our Lord came and comforted us, and it is our time to share the message of consolation.
Consolation is always followed by hope.
The fact that you have been consoled means you now have new perspectives and you have found strength to overcome the adverse situation.
To be comforted means, you now have hope.
I pray that we can become God’s messengers who spread His message of consolation.
Nowadays, when we look around, we realize that there are many people who are suffering.
There are many people who need comforting around us.
It is truly the season that requires consolation.
They need the Lord’s consolation.
It is now the Christmas season when we celebrate and wait for His coming.
I pray that we can experience His consolation, spread His message to the world, and take part in the Holy mission during this year’s Christmas season. Amen.