Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Prayers of Preparation: the Restoring God

Midweek in Advent 3
December 17, 2008
Psalm 126:1-6

The God who listens to us is the God who has favor on us. He hears our plea for mercy and forgives and saves us. He has favor on us because of His mercy. These are good things to know when it seems like God doesn’t hear us. It’s comforting to know when we wonder if God loves us. What it means day after day is that God doesn’t give up on you. He doesn’t leave you in the lurch. He stays with you no matter what.

Have you seriously messed something up? God doesn’t hold it against you. Have you strained a relationship because you made some assumptions instead of putting the best construction on things? The other person may hold it against you but God will restore you to Himself. Do you find yourself feeling far away from God? He will come near to you when you most need it.

Restoration. One of the most important things we need to know about is God’s work of restoration. During this season of preparation we need to know that God is a restoring God. Our whole lives are lives of preparation, we need God’s work of restoration. We are preparing ultimately for life with God in heaven. The people of God in the Old Testament were preparing for the actual birth of the Savior. Since He has already come we do not need to prepare for that. Our celebration of His birth focuses our attention on Christ. We prepare for our celebration of Christmas by meditating on the reason He came. He came for the cross. Christmas is ultimately about the cross. Without the cross there is no place awaiting us in heaven.

The Old Testament people of God placed their hope in the coming of the Savior. We rejoice that our hope is in the fact that He came. Our hope also looks to the future. To the day when He will return. We will not know glory until that day. That is why preparation is necessary. That is why we pray to our God who listens and ask for His favor upon us. His mercy and love restores us. We are brought back to His loving care. We too often forget the devastation sin wreaks on our lives. We are not in a right relationship with God when we are caught up in our sin. He is constantly calling us to repentance so that He may restore us.

We so often brush our sin aside. We often treat it as a minor defect. Our sin separates us from God. His restoration of us is a serious matter. We need it and He knows that. He also knows that only He can provide it. If He doesn’t act to save us we are eternally lost from Him. His answer to that is His Son. His salvation of us is His pure joy in giving us a gift beyond measure, Jesus the Savior.

The very fact that we can pray to our God in the midst of our sinful lives shows us that God is merciful to us and desires to restore us. He not only desires it, He acts on it. He brings it about. He turns our despair into hope. Our mourning into joy.

The next time we gather here mid-week we will be celebrating the birth of our Savior. It goes without saying that we rejoice in this miraculous event. It also should go without saying that we never cease to rejoice in it. It should go without saying that we never tire of praying to our God, because He never tires of listening to us, of shining His favor upon us, of restoring us to His eternal care. Our preparation is continual because our need is continual.

Our only hope is in the God whose love and favor, mercy and restoration is never-ending. Our only hope is in the God who sent the Savior, accomplishing salvation that never ends. Our only hope is in the God of Bethlehem and Calvary and the Word and Sacraments through which He comes to us. Our only hope is in the God of heaven who has heard, who has shown favor, who has restored us. This is why we believe and rejoice that His coming again on the Last Day will be a day of rejoicing and our ultimate restoration. Amen.


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