As the Church prepares to begin yet another year of preaching and teaching Christ and Him Crucified, permit me to use a turn of phrase concerning the word: Advent. Now the word advent is derived from the Latin words, advenire (to come to) and adventus (an arrival), and is most frequently used in connection to our Lord’s coming into this world. And indeed, the better part of this post will be on the consideration of the Advent of our Lord. Yet, and here is where I beg you to permit me the use of a turn of phrase, I would also like to briefly speak of another advent – the advent of this blog series, based upon the radio program: LampLight Conversations.
LampLight Conversations is the brainchild of the programming committee here at KNGN (Kansas Nebraska Good News radio), the only independentLCMS talk radio station in the United States. As the programming committee continues to seek out solid, confessional, Lutheran programing to add to its repertoire, a question continually came to the forefront: what gap is their in the current programming that KNGN could, with its own resources, fill? After months of brainstorming, and a few ideas that remain in production purgatory, a concept for a show emerged: to provide a preview show, as it were, on the upcoming lessons that would be heard in the majority of the LCMS churches in the area. This show would give listeners the opportunity to come to church on Sunday with the Word of God that would be read and proclaimed already in their ears and on their minds. As each pastor is not afforded the opportunity to preach and teach on all aspects of all the lessons on a given Sunday, this show would also supply a framework to bolster up the listener with other facets of the lessons that perhaps their pastor did not emphasize. Suffice it to say, as this concept took shape, it became increasingly obvious that this show would be a benefit not only to the laity, but also for pastors, in their preparations for preaching and teaching the lessons. The biggest drawback in developing such a show was the talent. Situated in rural southwest Nebraska, pastors are spread fairly far apart, with only a couple willing to devote the considerable amount of time needed to produce such a show on a weekly basis. Thanks be to God, that by means of modern communication, pastors from around the world could participate, thus giving a more diverse talent base for the listener. Thus it was, that LampLight Conversations was born. Each week pastors both local to southwest Nebraska and those living elsewhere, come together to discuss the upcoming lessons, offering their particular insights upon the lessons, to edify the Church at large.
LampLight Conversations has been broadcasting each week since Lent I, 2013. So the advent of which I aforementioned, is not the show, in and of itself. Rather, it is the arrival of this blog series. Each week, I hope to bring to you some of the insights that were exchanged on the show. For, you see, another one of the goals of LampLight Conversations was to not only have pastors discussing the upcoming lessons, but also to engage the listeners in the conversation. In this way, I hope to provide you with the opportunity to join in the conversation – to reflect and discuss the upcoming lessons with us. So both clergy and laity alike, I encourage you to participate in the comments section, that together we might examine and meditate upon God’s Word.Now, unfortunately, due to the time constraints of our volunteer hosts, the actual show is pre-recorded, which makes answering questions and live interaction within the conversation unfeasible (as of now, but who knows the will and plan of the Lord). However, as this blog series gets rolling, it is my intention to post the lessons that our conversationalists will be unpacking the next time the mic is on. Thus, by means of your comments and questions, you too can join in the conversation, for the host pastors will have that content available to them. So, the advent of this blog series affords you three opportunities to be engaged in the upcoming lessons. First, as a listener of the show, you can reflect and meditate upon the upcoming lessons, and perhaps, engage with others in your local congregations (i.e. some congregations have Bible studies on the lessons of the day, or perhaps, if you were to be so inclined, such a Bible study could be an idea that you could bring to your pastor). Second, as a reader of this blog, you can reflect and express your thoughts and questions in the comments section, that the community could then engage in your furthering understanding of God’s Word. And third, again as a reader of this blog, you could express your comments and questions on the next lessons the hosts will be discussing, thereby engaging in the radio show itself. Whatever your level of engagement is, it is our prayer here at LampLight Conversations and KNGN that you might grow in God’s Word.
With that, I now invite you to the “better part” of this blog post – the part in which we shall briefly consider the Advent of our Lord as expressed in the lessons for the First Sunday in Advent. And so, without further ado, I present to you some of the insights that were exchanged on the LampLight Conversations episode for Advent I.
Along with our regular hosts, we were joined in studio by Vicar Jake Berger, serving out his 2013–2014 academic year at Zion Lutheran Church, in Imperial Nebraska. This was the first time we had had a vicar on the show and we really put him through his paces. In fact, he brought some quite delightful insights to the lessons, particularly the Gospel and Old Testament lessons.
The first lesson we tackled in our conversation was the Gospel Lesson: Matthew 21:1–11. The reason we chose to converse about the Gospel lesson first was, as we were looking at the lessons, because St. Matthew records for us our Lord’s Triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which would be part and parcel of our Lord’s first Advent, and both the Old Testament and Epistle lessons deal more specifically with His Second Advent, our thought was that we would deal with these lessons from a linear point of view.
Pastor Brad Rick brought up the interesting point that Jesus, as He comes to Jerusalem on that Sunday before His crucifixion, was coming from Bethany, where He had raised Lazarus. So Jesus is coming from death and resurrection and going to His own death and resurrection, which is why He is entering into Jerusalem.
Another point of interest, was the conversation on whether the crowd as Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday were indeed the same crowd that cried out for His crucifixion but a few days later. It was pointed out that within the different Gospel accounts there is evidence to suggest that the crowd at the Triumphal entry was not the same crowd as cried out for His crucifixion. While there might have been some individuals who may have been a part of both, the Scriptures don’t hold up the concept that these crowds are indeed one and the same.
One of the most insightful points that was brought up in the conversation on the Gospel lesson was brought forth by Vicar Berger. He pointed out how in the response of the crowds we see a recalling of the accounts of both the Baptism of our Lord and His Transfiguration. For the crowds say of Jesus: “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” (Matthew 21:11), thereby confessing in a similar, albeit, incomplete manner that the Father confessed who Jesus is (see Matthew 3:17; 17:5).
Pastor Rick also made the connection for us between the Triumphal entry and the Divine Service; how Christ Jesus comes in and amongst His people, both then and now in humble means. Also, an insightful connection was made about the tying and loosing of the donkey serving as a reminder of how Christ looses us from our sins.
This this language of tying and loosing enabled a natural transition to St. Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, as the Apostle speaks of the struggles of the flesh – the works of darkness. In Romans 13:11–14, the Epistle lesson for the First Sunday in Advent, the Apostle teaches us that while Christians still continue to struggle with the works and provisions of the flesh, that we have the Lord Jesus Christ. Vicar Berger then brought up some of the nuances that English translations don’t render so well – that St. Paul utilizes what is known as the middle voice, which is a way of expressing something that is being done for our good. What’s more the things which St. Paul speaks of are done, not by ourselves, but by Christ through Baptism.
Vicar Berger was also quick to point out that Isaiah 2:1–5, the Old Testament Lesson, was a vision, specifically of the day our Lord Christ comes in Judgment – the Last Day. In this vision, God’s people are comforted that Christ Himself will bring peace and reconciliation between, not only God and man, but man and man. All in all, on the Last Day, man will be restored to his perfect relationship with God, with his fellow man, and even with the new earth.
As the episode came to a close, the main theme of Psalm 122 was put forth as: the gladness that the newman cries out, that he delights to be in the very presence of the Lord. This occurs here in time as we gather together around His Word and Sacraments, and also in eternity as all of the saints of God are gathered around Him, the King of kings.
LampLight Conversations is brought to you by KNGN. Visit kngn.org to listen online every Tuesday @ 9am, Thursday @ 5pm, Saturday @ 10am or Sunday @ 9am or 2pm (all times CT).
Or listen On Demand by visiting kngn.org and clicking on the LampLight Conversations link.