I am belatedly posting a midweek Advent sermon that I preached last month, but the sermon series it comes from may be a useful idea for other pastors and churches to look at near the end of this year. It is no secret in Lutheran circles that 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation–specifically, the anniversary of Luther posting his 95 Theses, formally called Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences. The posting of the 95 Theses was the first of many events that led to the Lutheran Reformation of the Church.
Lutheran congregations will be observing this anniversary in a number of ways throughout 2017–from Reformation-themed Bible studies, to seminars, to children’s Christmas services based on Lutheran hymnody, to (of course) festive Reformation services later this year near the actual anniversary day of the posting of the 95 Theses, October 31.
One way that this anniversary year could be concluded is with the following midweek Advent sermon series. The idea for this series isn’t original with me; I first saw this used as a midweek Advent sermon series in 2000 at Grace Lutheran Church in Milwaukee (where I happened to be serving as the Seminary student assistant during my last year of studies at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary). Since then, I have repeated this sermon series in all three of the congregations I have served.
Here’s how we described this “Lutheran Advent sermon series” in the service booklets at Crown of Life Lutheran Church during this past Advent season (2016); a few minor edits would make this introduction suitable for an Advent series later this year (2017):
Martin Luther once observed that there were three “ingredients” that turned a man into a good theologian. These three ingredients are summarized in three Latin words:
- meditatio (meditation, or study of God’s Word)
- oratio (prayer)
- tentatio (testing, or trials)
What is true of theologians is true of all Christians. God uses these three things—meditation, prayer, and testing—to draw us closer to him as we wait for the day of Christ’s return.
As we stand on the eve of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, our midweek Evening Prayer series for this Advent season will help us Prepare the Way for the Lord by considering how God prepares our hearts for his Son’s advent through the three ingredients Luther observed: meditation, prayer, and testing. As we listen to the Advent story in Luke 1 during these services, we will also ponder three different sections of Psalm 119 that highlight the themes of meditation, prayer, and testing. Join us for worship as the Holy Spirit prepares our hearts to celebrate Jesus’ first advent and to anticipate his second advent.
- November 30 | Psalm 119:9-16 | Prepare the Way for the Lord – in Meditation
- December 7 | Psalm 119:145-152 | Prepare the Way for the Lord – with Prayer
- December 14 | Psalm 119:65-72 | Prepare the Way for the Lord – through Testing
Because I’ve preached at least one of the sermons in this series at several different congregations, I have written sermons for all three texts at some point. I offer a sample sermon for all three texts below, with the hope that others will find this series useful in their own congregations later this year and for their own devotional use at any time. Read More…