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Sermon December 4 2022

Advent Two A Sermon 2022

Matthew 3:1-12


Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

Comfort.  We like to be comfortable.  Many of us like to sit in our recliners and fall asleep in front of the TV.  We like to snuggle under a blanket on a cold day.  We like that feeling of putting on a good ole pair of broken in jeans.  We like to dive into a meal of comfort food.  Comfort.  We like to be comfortable. 

On the other hand, we do not like to be uncomfortable.  We don’t like to be cold, and we don’t like to be too hot.  We don’t appreciate it when our pants are too tight or our belt too small.  And we do not like it when someone makes something too difficult for us to accomplish.  We do not like someone rocking the boat in any way in our lives.  We do not like to be uncomfortable. 

If ever there is a word that describes the way that John the Baptist’s message is intended to make us feel, the word would be “uncomfortable.” 

The man who ate locusts and wild honey and wore a camel hair robe and a belt tied around his waist arrived from the wilderness with a message that shocked many folks with his appearance. 

But it was not his apparel or food selection that rocked the boat.  It was the words that came out of his mouth. “Repent,” John the Baptist shouted aloud for all to hear, “for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”  

John the Baptist was calling out to the people to stop what they were doing and change their sinful ways. 

And while some were shocked at what John the Baptist had to say, many who heard his message did stop what they were doing, repented, and were baptized.  John’s message had made them feel uncomfortable concerning their sin, and they knew that they needed to change their ways. 

That is what the law does.  The law makes people feel uncomfortable.  The law helps us to see our sin for what it truly is and urges all of us to repent and seek the true comfort that comes from outside of ourselves.

Unfortunately, not everyone sees it that way.  In our text today, the Pharisees and Sadducees saw no need to repent or be baptized.  The Pharisees and Sadducees were convinced that salvation was already theirs.  

The Pharisees and Sadducees were certain that salvation was theirs because they had been grafted into the family of Abraham, and that was all that they needed in their minds. 

They did not understand that we all need to repent.  Which brings us to Advent because in the hustle and bustle of the season, John the Baptists stops us in our tracks and makes it clear that Advent is not about ensuring that the comforts of this life are in place.  

No.  The decorations, the gifts, the baked goods, the lights, the reunion with family members are all well and good - but that is not what we really need during the Advent Season.  

During the Advent Season we are asked to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ – the Savior of the World.  And Advent is the season to be honest with ourselves.

For you see, too often we are far too comfortable with our sin.  And we are often tempted to think that John’s call to repentance is not meant for us.  

Think about it.  How often do we think that John’s message is meant for someone else.  Ever thought “I hope so and so is listening because they really need to hear this message.”  

Yes.  They do need to hear John’s message, but we need to hear it, too.  You need to change.  I need to change.  We all need to change.  And change is hard.  Change is especially hard for Lutherans.  

Ever hear the joke about how many Lutherans it takes to change a light bulk?  The punch line says it all.  Change.  Lutherans don’t like to change anything.  Why?  Because change is painful.  And change hurts.  And we do not like to admit that what we are doing is sinful.  We would rather bury our heads in the sand and ignore the power sin has over us. 

Talk about uncomfortable.  You can’t get any more graphic or uncomfortable than John’s words in our text. 

John shouted out “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 

In other words, repent or else you will face the fire of hell.  But thankfully, Jesus baptizes us with the Holy Spirit and fire.  He makes us pure, spotless, and clean.  He removes all the impurities, so that by His grace, we can stand in the presence of God. 

That day will soon be here.  During advent we not only find ourselves preparing for the birth of the Christ Child, but we also find ourselves preparing for Christ’s final coming.  What comfort it is to know that we need not approach that day with fear.  

Our message today informs us that “if we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  

My friends, our comfort does not come in front of the tv sitting in a recliner.  Our comfort does not come curled up in a warm blanket, or in a good ole pair of jeans.  Our comfort does not come in a meal, or from a store.  

Sure, these things are nice, but none of them compare to the comfort we enjoy knowing that our sins are forgiven and our death has been defeated.  None of them compare to the comfort that comes to us through the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen. 

Let us pray:   Heavenly Father, your servant John came baptizing and calling for repentance.  Help us to hear his voice of judgment that we may also rejoice in his word of promise.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.