The Church Abides Forever
Monday of Advent 1
28 November 2016
Advent is a time of waiting in in the church. In these latter days, we are set between the first and second comings of Jesus. As Christians wait we are among those in the house of the Lord; a house which the Lord has lifted up above all other mountains.  She is exalted among the nations. The church is spiritually exalted above all. Jerusalem of old was not the tallest mountain in its region. However, the people always ascended Mt. Zion where God dwelt among His people. His dwelling among them is the true exaltation of the people of God. In nearness to His perfect presence, God lifts up those who will never deserve the presence of God.
Waiting can be tiresome to the anxious faithful. We await redemption from this present evil age through the self-giving of the Lord who has built the edifice of the church and exalted it (Gal 1:4). We still struggle to wait patiently. How can we survive these latter days, with all its end times apostasy, manifest evil, and false teaching even in the church?

We spend these latter days in exalted nearness to Christ as He comes near to us in His holy body and blood upon our altar. How can the mountain of the church be lifted any higher than to be lifted up by these holy things? Only when the Lord is close enough to be received with the mouths of our bodies will we have true peace in these latter days. In the church's weakness and humility there is hidden the sign of her King, the Lord Jesus who is conceived and born in humble circumstances, and is burdened by our death and our sin and willingly bears all this to the cross unto death. The dying Lord rules the church by keeping her hidden under the signs of His death. The church's children have no reason to be proud.

Every other proud kingdom has tottered and fallen. Once great Assyria, Jerusalem's ancient enemy, is no more. Assyria is remembered almost entirely because she is the enemy of Jerusalem at the time of Isaiah, the mighty Seer. Yet because God has chosen to establish His presence among His people, we live even now by faith on the hill of the church that has been lifted above all hills where He establishes His presence. Assyria is long forgotten. Only the church abides forever.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
"The church, or the kingdom of Christ, is an exalted mountain, the house of the Lord in a spiritual sense, because there it had its beginning in a physical way. 'Established' is a Hebraism and means confirmed, attested, made stable (Is 2:2). Scripture is also wont to speak this way elsewhere. In 1 Kings 2 we read: 'So the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon' (1Ki 2:46). Thus this kingdom will also be lifted up beyond all hills, all other kingdoms, principalities, and whatever is lofty on earth. No matter how much the church is sure to be harassed and trampled underfoot by death, sins, Satan, tyranny, and heretics, yet in this trampling underfoot it shall be exalted above all mountains. For no other kingdom is so firmly established, and compared with it all other kingdoms are filthy: the Assyrians, the Greeks, the Chaldeans, the Romans, etc. For that kingdom endures, overcomes, and triumphs over death, devil, and heresies. No other kingdom can do this. But this takes place by the Word alone. Very many kingdoms have been laid waste. The church remains victorious over all kingdoms and the gates of hell (Mt 16:18)."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Isaiah, 2.2
Isaiah 2:2-5

It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.
Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

For the family of Gerald Tackett, whose mortal remains will be laid to rest tomorrow, that his family would be comforted by the resurrection of the flesh

For the family of John Behrendt, who was taken from this vale of tears, that they would be strengthened by the promise of Christ to bring with Him those who have trusted in Him

For Lois Vaughn, who is gravely ill, that the Lord Jesus would grant her strength, healing, and a full recovery

For Simon Makangula, who will be having an immigration hearing today, that the Lord who watches over the sojourner would be with him
Art: VASARI, Giorgio Annunciation (1564-67)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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