Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 24, 2017
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ this fourth Sunday in Advent. (Amen)
It is written in Philippians: 4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your moderation be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand. Thus far the text.
Let us pray: Creator Father, who gives everlasting joy all who believe in Jesus, grant that we be known to treat others better than ourselves; in the name of Jesus. Amen.
This morning we conclude the Advent season; the mini-Lent in which we prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of a baby who is the Lord.
To conclude this season, the words written to the Philippians describe what our conduct should now be like toward our Father, who art in heaven and also our conduct toward the people around us.
First, our conduct toward God our Father. We respond with joy. Our Father is the giver of joy. Not necessarily happiness but joy. Young children are filled with happiness on Christmas morning. Presents. Paper. A pile of happiness to fill us up. But as the hours and days pass, happiness ebbs away. We look toward the next happy event. Unlike happiness, you start with no joy. But the giver of joy, our Father who art in heaven, gives you some joy. Joy does not go away. It accumulates. Slowly, over time, you are filled with joy. You become overjoyed and then your Father gives you even more joy.
God our Father gave you His only-begotten Son that whoever believes in Jesus should not perish but have everlasting life. That is a gift. Our Father has given you life in abundance. Life that is everlasting. And no one can snatch you from our Father’s gracious hand. Our response is not just happiness that can ebb away but rather abundant joy. Joy is believing again that our Father loves you. Joy is believing that you will rise even though you die. Joy is waking up on Christmas morning and seeing a pile of people God has given you. Our Father gave you parents who gave you life. Our Father may have given you a husband or wife to share your life. Our Father may have given you children and blessed is the man that has his quiver full of children (Ps. 127:5 KJV).
Therefore, rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Our conduct before the Lord is joy.
Second, our conduct toward mankind. Overflowing with joy how should you treat the people around you? The public reading of this verse said, Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. That’s good. Treat your people fairly. That’s good. Another good word (besides reasonableness) is moderation. Treat your people with moderation.
We are a people that have rights, don’t we? We are a people that are naturally compelled to stand up for our rights, aren’t we?
What would people think if you did not protect your rights but gave them up to help people? What would people think if you did not stand up for your rights but rather let other have the benefit that rightly belongs to you?
That’s right. Nothing bad would happen. There is no law against giving up your rights, is there. That’s right. There is no law against giving up your rights just as there is no law preventing you from overflowing with joy before the Lord.
Ahh, but I hear an objection.
But, but, but evil people will take advantage of us.
Ok, but let us take a second look at what the Lord says to see what we missed:
First: 4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Ok, we got that.
Second: 5Let your moderation be known to everyone. Ok, we got that too.
But now, we see what we missed. It is written: The Lord is at hand.
This Lord is the Immanuel we heard about on Wednesday. The prophet Isaiah declared, The virgin shall conceive and bear a Son. His name shall be Immanuel which means, “God with us.” Or for us this morning “The Lord is at hand.”
The Lord is more powerful than evil people who might take advantage of you.
You believe this Lord keeps His promise to take care of you always. If you don’t believe that then you found your repentance for this morning.
You treat you people with moderation because you are overflowing with joy. If you don’t treat your people with moderation then you have found your repentance for this morning.
So repent and believe the Lord. You can give up your rights to help the people around you from time to time for their benefit. Your joy overflows because your sins are forgiven, your salvation is promised, and your eternal life began at baptism when you first believed.
On this final Sunday in Advent, Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your moderation be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes understanding; will protect you and keep you in Jesus Christ the Lord who is at hand. Amen.