Focus for the Day
These paragraphs appear in the Sunday bulletin highlighting the chief themes of the day of the Church Year.
Focus for Behold! The King Comes! The First Sunday of Advent
The new Church year begins by focusing on the humble coming of our Lord. “Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey.” Even as He was born in a lowly manger, so Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a beast of burden. For He bears the sin of the world. He is the Son of David riding to His enthronement on the cross, where He shows Himself to be “The Lord, our Righteousness” (I Kings 1:32-40). Our Lord still comes in great humility to deliver His righteousness to us in the Word and Sacraments. Before receiving Christ’s body and blood, we also sing, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:1–9) And as we receive the Lord’s Supper, we set our hearts on His return in glory, for “Our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:8–14).
Focus for My Words Will Not Pass Away, The Second Sunday of Advent
The Day on which our Lord will return is a “great and dreadful Day” (Malachi 4:1–6). For He will come in a cloud with great power and glory. To the wicked and the proud, it will be a Day of Judgment that will “burn them up.” The signs preceding this Day will bring them fear and fainting. But to those who believe, who fear the name of the Lord, this Day is one to look forward to and rejoice in. “Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:25–36) Christ our Redeemer is coming; the Sun of Righteousness is bringing healing in His wings. Let us, then, give attention to the words of the Lord, which do not pass away. Let us through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures (Romans 15:1–13) be strengthened in our hope by the Holy Spirit and watch diligently for Jesus’ coming. Then, by God’s grace, we shall escape all these things that will come to pass and stand before the Son of Man.
Focus for Rejoice in the Lord Always, The Third Sunday of Advent
The voice of the Baptizer cried out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord . . .” (Isaiah 40:1–11). John called the people to be made ready for the Messiah’s coming through repentance, for “all flesh is grass.” Now He asks from prison, “Are You the Coming One?” (Matthew 11:2–11) Jesus’ works bear witness that He is. The sick are made well; the dead are raised, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. Their iniquity is pardoned; they have received from the Lord’s hand double forgiveness for all their sins. The stewards of the mysteries of God (I Corinthians 4:1–5) still deliver Christ’s overflowing forgiveness to the poor in spirit, comforting God’s people with the word of the Gospel that stands forever. This Gospel produces rejoicing among those who believe. For in it, “the Lord is at hand” (Introit).
Focus for He Sent Redemption to His People, The Fourth Sunday of Advent
The coming of God in His unveiled power at Mt. Sinai terrified the people of Israel; sinners were put in fear of death (Deuteronomy 18:15–19). God, therefore, raised up a prophet like Moses, the Christ. God came to His people veiled in human flesh; He brought forth His Christ through the blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of the Lord (Luke 1:39–56). This Lord delivers us from fear and anxiety; in Him alone we have the peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:4–7).