Psalm 95:6 O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
Tonight we seek to answer the question asked in our opening hymn – O Lord, How can I meet the, and welcome they aright? It’s the last step in our Advent preparation. There are 2 chief ways that this question is usually answered. On the one hand there are some who believe that is is impossible to meet God properly, for since we are all sinners, and since God hates sin, any sinner who presumes to come into the presence of God will be immediately struck dead. These are the people who say – I could never go to church, if I did, the roof would cave in – or – If I went to church, I’d be struck by lightning. Seeing that there is no way of meeting God, they continue in their sin, there may be hell to pay for it, but probably not today.
The second group of people are not afraid of meeting God at all, so much so that they see no reason to do any getting ready. There creed is – What a friend we have in Jesus – and what a friend he is – for the Savior’s chief purpose in this solution is that of a gofer – and prayer is the go fetch me list. It takes that part about the Savior coming to serve so far, that they do not hesitate to give him their orders.
Now it is true, that the Savior did come to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many – but – there may be someone the Savior came to serve, more important than ME! Think for a moment, where did Jesus say he had come Peter’s will? Or any other disciple? Whose will was Jesus busy doing, or to rephrase that – whose will did Jesus serve? Wasn’t it the Father’s will?
I don’t want to minimize all that Jesus does for us, nor do I want to deny the importance of the incarnation and the effect of that on our lives. It was important that Jesus was a true man, and true God. It is important that in his name we have salvation, the forgiveness of sins. But the center of the whole thing, was doing God’s will. And the example we see in Jesus is an example we are called to follow, by also doing God’s will.
Which brings us to our question, and also to our text - O Lord, How can I meet the, and welcome they aright? Answer – we meet God in right worship – and part of right worship is that we bow down and kneel before the Lord our God. Lutherans are not much acquainted with kneeling these days, some times all we know is that catholics do it, and do rather a lot of it. So, what’s the point? If we are preparing to meet Jesus, we are not only meeting our Savior and Friend, we are also meeting our LORD. And a LORD deserves respect – in fact, it dishonors God when we treat him as our equal. This is the root of all idolatry, something else is getting the respect that belongs to God alone, and often that something is ME.
This is why the first thing that happens in worship is that we bow down and kneel, if not literally, certainly in the confession of our sins, as well as in our hymns of praise. We begin by acknowledging that he is our Lord.
And this is where the good part comes in, because when we, in bow down before the Lord our God, something remarkable happens. God lifts us up. God forgives our sins, gives us peace and eternal life, makes us a new creation, and brings us into His family, for by water and the word we are the children of God – as children of God we may certainly sing, What a Friend we have in Jesus – but he is first our Lord, and he is our friend not because we are worthy, but because He has lifted us up. This is precisely what is going on in the benediction – God lifts us up.
But it all begins in God’s call to all creation, to kneel before the Lord, and maker of all things, in begins in giving God the honor he is due, it begins in bowing down, acknowledging that God does indeed rule over us.
You see, not only does God call us into His presence, but he prepares us that we might meet him. God pours out his grace on all, unfortunately, some, due to pride, who see no need to kneel in the presence of God, shield themselves lest God’s grace should touch their lives, and they should be changed. May we join with the shepherds, and wisemen of old, and kneel before our Lord, so that we also may share in the blessing, as God lifts us up to everlasting life in Jesus Christ.