12232018 Advent 4 Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

"We prepare to enter and come and praise Jesus!"


12232018 Advent 4 Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

December 23, 2018

"We prepare to enter and come and praise Jesus!"
Sermon Audio

Today, as we conclude the first season of the church year, Advent, one of the 29 Advent hymns in our hymnal, “Fling Wide the Door” connects us back to the beginning of the season.  Georg Weissel, author, poet and pastor penned this hymn which was meant to be used on the First Sunday in Advent. He also in total of penned 20 hymns during the early 1600’s for many of the major church festivals.  This particular hymn we sing today seeks to prepare the people of God for what the season of Advent is about, preparation for Jesus Christ’s birth. Let’s join together in singing the first stanza of our hymn, Fling Wide the Door Hymn 259:

St. 1 - Fling wide the door, un-bar the gate; the King of glory comes in state; the Lord of lords and King of kings, the Savior of the world who brings his great salvation to the earth.  So raise a shout of holy mirth and praise our God and Lord, Creator, Spirit, Word.

If you have ever toured older homes unlike our current houses that have ‘deadbolts’, in the old country they would use a bar or sturdy piece of wood to keep the door from opening to intruders.  Georg in our hymn calls for we the people of God to ‘un-bar the gate’ in preparation for the ‘King of glory’. The ‘King of glory...Lord of Lords and King of kings’ is none other than Jesus Christ.  For what Jesus brings for the people of earth with His entrance in the manger is the greatest gift for mankind, the gift of ‘great salvation to the earth’--a gift that knows no equal and offers His followers eternal life.

God’s gift according to Weissel calls for a clear response from the people of God of enthusiasm, thankfulness and praise.  Not ease of life, but for we, God’s people, to ‘raise a shout of holy mirth,’ to ‘praise our God and Lord, Creator, Spirit, Word’.  This response not only shows how God has impacted us, but by our response, we punctuate God’s free gift of salvation and proclaim salvation is not limiting, but sets us free as His children to ‘un-bar’ our hearts in order that ‘We prepare to enter and come and praise Jesus’ in our worship.  Let’s join together to sing the second stanza and see how Jesus brings mercy to save us.

St. 2 - He is the rock of our belief, the heart of mercy’s gentle self.  His kingly crown is holiness his scepter is his love-li-ness; he brings our sorrows to an end.  Now gladly praise our king and friend, and worship him with song for saving us from wrong.

When Gracia Grindel translated this hymn in the early 1970’s her translation helped to re-introduce to her generation how Jesus Christ was still the ‘rock of our belief’.  We then could understand Jesus Christ’s gift of grace, as it shows not only His love, but especially ‘the heart of mercy’s gentle self’. For Jesus Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity, ‘brings our sorrows to an end’ with His offer of grace out of His great love for us.  This is what is clearly offered for us by the One we find in the manger. It is Jesus’s main job to save us ‘from wrong’ and set us free to be His people who clearly see Advent as a time when ‘We prepare to enter and come and praise Jesus’.  Let’s join and sing the third stanza where we proclaim that ‘Jesus is our strength and blesses us.’

St. 3 - Oh, happy towns and blessed lands that live by their true king’s commands.  And blessed be the hearts he rules, the humble places where he dwells. He is the rightful Son of bliss who fills our lives and makes us his, creator of the world, our only strength for good.

It may be asked of us as we gather this morning, does God rule our hearts or do we live by the ‘king’s commands’?  Advent is meant to be a time of preparation and for us to ‘un-bar’ the doors of our hearts in order that our hearts can be filled with God’s love.  This is in order that God’s love can-- ‘fill our lives and make(s) us his’. For the power of God can and does change us and clearly helps us when we doubt others’ love.  We are then enabled to share and reassure ourselves and others of God’s eternal love in and from God for us and all of mankind. We then can be continuously assured of the ‘strength for good’ from God and how this can change us and allow others to see that it is in our hearts, ‘the humble places where he dwells’ that we will be ‘blessed’ eternally by Him.  And this is not for a select few, but for all of mankind as ‘We prepare to enter and come and praise Jesus’.

As we look to the last stanza of ‘Fling Wide the Doors’ it is very clear that the intent is for ‘our hearts’ to ‘open wide in trust’.  This is so that we can be guided by the Holy Spirit in ‘our journey’ of faith in order for God’s grace to overcome and overwhelm us and we can be inspired to ‘praise’ Jesus’s holy name.  And in faith, we then can by the Holy Spirit’s action in our lives prepare our heads, hearts and homes for the entrance of our King of Kings and Lord of Lords as we both begin and end the Advent season as ‘We prepare to enter and come and praise Jesus’.  Let’s fully prepare our hearts for the fulfillment found in the manger with our Lord’s entrance by our singing the last stanza of ‘Fling Wide the Doors’.

St. 4 - Come, Lord, our Savior, Jesus Christ; our hearts are open wide in trust.  Oh, show us now your lovely grace, upon our sorrows shine your face, and let your Holy Spirit guide our journey in your grace so wide.  We praise your holy name, from age to age the same.  AMEN!