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    Rev. Cameron Schnarr

Beautiful Savior Lutheran School

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Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, Canada
Jesus: King of Guilt

Jesus: King of Guilt

Based on the Introit for the Second Sunday in Advent

Preached on December 7, 2016 (Midweek Advent 2)

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Restore us, O God;
Let your face shine, that we may be saved!
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
You brought a vine out of Egypt;
It took deep root and filled the land.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
Let your face shine, that we may be saved!

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

It’s a prayer. A prayer of God’s people. They have fallen out of favour. They have messed up, and they know it. They got caught up in worldliness and false gods, and had become careless with God’s Word. And their enemies have beaten them.

Psalm 80 is the prayer of refugees. God’s people of the northern kingdom who fled to Jerusalem in the south when the Assyrian army took over the north. Their homes? Gone. Their places of worship? Gone. Their government? Gone. Everything they thought they’d built up – all the things they’d put their trust in instead of God – every last false thing that had distracted them from their heavenly King who gave it all to them: Gone.

And so they ran. They did the only thing you can do when all the structures, all the stable things you rely on are disintegrating around you like quicksand. They ran home. To Jerusalem. To the temple. And mourning underneath their sorrow’s load – they write this psalm. Pray this psalm. Weep this psalm. Restore us, O God. Let your face shine, that we may be saved!

It is a prayer – a plea – Come Lord – Act – Do something about this – we beg you – There is nothing we can do – we need you to save us – Please come – restore us.

It is an appeal to the King – and not merely some earthly king sitting on a throne of gold – but heaven’s king – the king of the universe, yet right there in their midst, in the temple – sitting on the cherubim, the ark, calmly perched upon the most powerful angels, worshipped by them, hallowed by them – that King.

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel. Hear us. Listen to our cry, and our plea for mercy. No, we don’t deserve it. We took you for granted. We despised your good gifts. We didn’t listen to you. Nevertheless, hear us – because of who you are. Because you are that kind of King. A merciful king. A sparing King. A forgiving King. Hear our cry.

Don’t forget Lord, You are the only reason we are a people. You made us. You brought us out of Egypt like a choice vine, and planted us in this land. We are your creation, your vineyard – but we have failed you. We have despised your gracious gifts and your wise way. We have treated them lightly, ignored them, become distracted from them. We’ve wanted other things instead of them. Coveted what other people have. And now we deserve nothing. We are lost. But you saved us before Lord, save us again. Restore us.

God’s people called on their King to act. To save them. But nothing could have prepared them for the way their King would come to save them. They did not realize what it would take for Him to answer their cry. But He did.

The King came to His vineyard. He came to His own. But His own did not receive Him. They prayed restore us. Shouted hosanna to Him. But even in salvation – they wanted something different than what God would give. No, not this way. Get rid of our enemies. Where’s the kingdom? Aren’t you a king? So they yelled crucify. The King was cut off. Thrown out of the city. This Root of Jesse, this righteous branch of David was cut from the vineyard and finally given His crown. Guilt. And thorns. He was given His throne. Not the tops of the cherubim, but the depths of our death, our curse, our cross. Restore us, O God. Let your face shine.

The Father’s face shines on you because it stopped shining on His Son. The Father’s face shines on you because your king took His throne and crown in the darkness. The Father’s face shines on you because your king comes for you. Christ’s death in darkness is God’s face shining on you. Let your face shine, that we may be saved!

But I know what you’re thinking. That may be well and good for Him to have done that then, but here I am, in South St. Vital, mourning beneath my sorrow’s load. I need salvation now. I need Him to come and save now. Restore us, O God. Restore us.

You have called on your king to act – to save you – but nothing could prepare you for the way your King would come to save you. It is hard to imagine this king of righteousness wanting to enter into my guilty heart and take His seat upon its dark throne. It is far too contaminated – unworthy.

Yet this very night He comes to you. He says: Beloved, I am not afraid of your guilt. I am the King of your guilt. Crowned with your guilt. Enthroned upon the wood you deserve. Your guilt is mine, and my innocence is yours. What you deserve I take, what I deserve I give. You cry out, restore us! Here I am. Forgive them Father. Forgive them.

Beloved, I come to restore you. Not to burden you, but to relieve you. Not to crush you, but to lift you. To take away your guilt. Make it my own. Unite myself to it. Become it. Bury it. I am your king.

How wholly unworthy I am to stand in the pulpit of this king! And for you to sit here in the house and court of this king – we aren’t worthy – but that is the kind of King we have – A King in control – not by force – but by grace – not by might – but by forgiveness and mercy and love. He is our righteousness, our innocence, our blessedness and eternal holiness.

This whole night, He has been preparing our hearts and minds for His coming again. For there is only one way to prepare for the Lord: give Him your guilt and receive His grace. He is coming to save. That is the kind of King He is. So lift up your heads – your redemption draws near. Your King has heard your prayer.

It’s a prayer. It is your prayer. It is our prayer. Restore us, O God. Let your face shine, that we may be saved! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Rev. Cameron Schnarr