Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come and help us by Your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by Your grace and mercy; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
The Fourth Sunday of Advent is the last time the Church will gather together before the Nativity of our Lord. We pray these words in the Collect of the Day as our final plea and petition to Jesus who is coming. The Lord's Coming is what advent is all about. The Lord comes to us in by means of Word and Sacrament, and He comes to Bethlehem in the form of a lowly child.
There doesn’t seem like a lot of might in a manger, does there? Yet we pray that the Lord would come and help us by His might. There’s an awful lot of humility for the power of God to be consumed by mere flesh and blood in a stable with the donkeys and other barn yard animals. Here though, in Bethlehem, in the manger, is the might of God, the power which He is stirring up to win salvation for you on the Cross.
The power of the Lord is often hidden from the sight of man. We just can’t handle God’s power. God’s power throws lowly men to their knees begging and crying for mercy. So God, for the sake of sinners, has to not be so mighty in human terms. Instead He comes to us in the might of grace and forgiveness. He comes to us in ways in which we can comprehend, in forms of water and the word and bread and wine. The power and might of God is there in His Amen For You at the font and at the altar.
Our sins weigh us down. They present a burden which we often cannot carry in life. We stumble and fall and drown ourselves in even more sin. The burden is heavy and there are times it seems like we just won’t make it. Then we look back to our baptisms, and despite how good of a swimmer our Old Adam seems to be, we dunk that stinker one more time and splash around in the Lord’s forgiveness.
There at the forgiveness point is where our sins are lifted from us just as we pray in this coming week’s collect. Our sins are lifted from us high above the world so that they might hang on the Cross. Our sins are nailed to the cross, and water and blood flow from the side of our sins. There at Golgotha our sins are consumed in the lowly flesh and person of Jesus Christ. There at the place of the skull our sins are lifted from us not by our work or righteousness but by the grace and mercy of God. And it all begins here in Advent!
Advent is about our Lord’s coming. It’s about getting ready and preparing for Jesus to take on flesh and blood. But even more it’s about preparing for this little baby, the Christ child to suffer and die on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins. It’s about preparing for Good Friday. The lifting of our sins we pray for today is the lifting of Good Friday and the grace and mercy we pray for today is the grace and mercy of Easter.
Come soon, Lord Jesus. Amen.
The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork. (Introit for Rorate Coeli, the Fourth Sunday in Advent)
Created: December 19th, 2008