A relative sent me this quote from Martin Luther's sermon for the first Sunday in Advent, 1522.
What could be more reassuring, more comforting, more important, more hopeful than hearing the preacher teach and preach Christ crucified for sinners?
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
He cometh, cometh unto thee. Yea, verily, thou goest not to Him, neither dost thou fetch Him. He is too high for thee, and too far away. All thy wealth and wit, thy toil and labour, will not bring thee near Him, lest thou pride thyself that thy merit and worthiness have brought Him unto thee. Dear friend, all thy merit and worthiness are smitten down, and there is on thy side nothing but sheer undeserving and unworthiness, and on his side is pure grace and mercy, Here come together man in his poverty and the Lord's unsearchable riches.
Therefore learn here from the Gospel what happens when God begins to build us into the likeness of Him and what is the beginning of saintliness. There is no beginning than that thy king comesunto thee, and begins the work in thee. Thou dost not seek Him, He seeks after thee; thou dost not find Him, He finds thee; thy faith comes of Him, not of thyself; and where He does not come, thou must stay outside and where there is no Gospel, there is no God, but sheer sin and destruction.
Therefore ask thou not where to begin a godly life; there is no beginning but where this king comes and is preached. - Martin Luther