The Lord Comes on the Last Day
The day on which our Lord returns will be a "great and awesome day" (Malachi 4:5). For He will come in a cloud with great power and glory. To the wicked and the proud, it will be a Day of judgement that will "set them ablaze" (Malachi 4:1). The signs preceding this Day will bring them fear and fainting. But to those who believe, who fear the name of the Lord, this Day is one to look forward to and rejoice in: "...straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (Luke 21:28). Christ our Redeemer is coming, the Sun of Righteousness will bring healing in His wings. Let us, then, give attention to the words of the Lord, which do not pass away. Let us "through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures" (Romans 15:4) be strengthened in our hope by the Holy Spirit and watch diligently for Jesus' coming: Then, by God's grace, we shall escape all these things that will come to pass and stand before the Son of Man.
The Lord Jesus Comes in Humility to Redeem Us.
The new Church Year begins by focusing on the humble coming of our Lord. "Behold, your king is coming to you, humble and mounted on a donkey" (Matthew 21:5). Even as He was born in a lowly manger, so Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a beast of burden. For He bears the sin of the world. He is the Son of David riding to His enthronement on the cross, where He shows Himself to be "The LORD is our Righteousness' (Jeremiah 23:5-6). Our Lord still comes in great humility to deliver His righteousness to us in the Word and Sacraments. Before receiving Christ's body and blood, we also sing, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" (Matthew 21:9) And as we receive the Sacrament, we set out hearts on His return in glory, for "our salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed" (Romans 13:11).
The new church year begins with Advent. Advent is a penitential season of the church year preceding Christmas just as Lent is a penitential season of the church year preceding Holy Week and Easter. The Sunday nearest St. Andrew's day, November 30th, is always the first Sunday in Advent. For futher reading:
The Four Sundays in Advent
John the Baptizer Prepares the Way for the Lord
The voice of the Baptizer cried out in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the Lord..." (Isaiah 40:1). John called the people to be made ready for the Messiah's coming through repentance, for "all flesh is grass" (Isaiah 40:6). Now He asks from prison, "Are you the one who is to come...?" (Matthew 11:2). Jesus' works bear witness that He is . The sick are made well; the dead are raised, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. Their iniquity is pardoned; they have received from the Lord's hand double forgiveness for all their sins. The "stewards of the mysteries of God" (1 Corinthians 4:1) still deliver Christ's overflowing forgiveness to the poor in spirit, comforting God's people with the word of the Gospel which stands forever. This Gospel produces rejoicing among all those who believe.
John the Baptizer Points to the Messiah
The coming of God in all His unveiled power at Mount Sinai was terrifying to the people of Israel. The thundering voice of the Lord puts sinners in fear of death (Deuteronomy 18:15-19). God, therefore, raised up a prophet like Moses-the Messiah, the Christ. God came to His people veiled in human flesh. The skies poured down the Righteous One from heaven; the earth opened her womb and brought forth Salvation through the blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of the Lord (Like 1:39-56). The fruit of her womb is the very Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the One whose sandal strap John was not worthy to loose (John 1:19-28). In Jesus we are delivered from fear and anxiety. In Him alone we have the peace of God which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:4-7).
Today’s the darkest day of the year. And on this darkest day, the church remembers the darkness of doubt - the darkness in which St. Thomas lived after the Resurrection.