1) – Meditational Texts:
Jeremiah 33:14-16, Psalm 25:1-10 , 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 and Luke 21:25-36
The LORD Our Salvation
The Nativity of Christ marks a wonderfully exciting time in the church year. The change of season proclaims – Jesus Christ is coming! We sing “O come, O come, Emmanuel” as we await Christ Jesus’ arrival. In announcing his nativity, all the readings echo the word COMING:
- Behold, the days are COMING, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. (Jeremiah 33:14, RSV)
- So that he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the COMING of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:13, RSV)
- And then they will see the Son of man COMING in a cloud with power and great glory. (Luke 21:27, RSV)
The message of Nativity is God’s reassurance to us of his faithfulness to his promises. The promise is that Jesus Christ will be present among us and the Holy Spirit will guide and counsel us. Advent also is a summons to watch and pray. Watch for signs of the kingdom of God, for signs of love and forgiveness, for signs of hope and joy, for peace. Be alert for opportunities to reach out to others. Pray for the coming of the kingdom and the fulfillment of God’s will. We are called to grow in holiness as we prepare for the coming of the Lord.
God will overcome and change the world by pouring out, in self-sacrifice and love, his unrestricted force and flood of divine life. This life can be brought into being by making real in human affairs the depth of divine life and love; by showing ‘glory’ – the intensity and radiance of unqualified joy, eternal self-giving. Only in the heart of the ordinary vulnerability of human life can this be shown in such a way, so that we are saved from the terrible temptation of confusing it with earthly power and success. This is an assurance from the LORD, as recorded by Jeremiah, that God truly is the LORD, our salvation.
We have begun the new church cycle; we start over again, and we have the opportunity to review and recommit ourselves to the disciplines of faith. We will again receive the invitation and call, “Come, for all things are ready!” Let us respond with faith, in preparation of Jesus Christ’s coming! Amen!
2) – Meditational Text:
Malachi 3:1-4, Baruch 5:1-9, Luke 1:68-79, Philippians 1:3-11 and Luke 3:1-6
Prepare the Way for the Lord
Preparing is hard work and preparing the way for the Lord is harder. The prophet Malachi calls us to a time of preparation during the Advent season as we anticipate the coming of Christ. Malachi has good news—God will indeed appear. As a spokesman for the Lord, the prophet begins this particular chapter by saying, “Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3. 1, RSV). In this season of preparation, we await the coming of Jesus into his temple – and into our hearts again at Christmas.
But, Malachi also has a warning: “But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.” (Malachi 3. 2, RSV). In other words, the coming of the Lord means judgment.
That is precisely why it is imperative that we prepare for the Lord’s return. Preparing for the Lord’s coming is a matter of purification. True spiritual preparation involves repentance and change of heart. That is what getting ready for Christmas is about — preparing the way for the Lord’s arrival into our lives.
Like Malachi, John the Baptist tells us to prepare, but he also admonishes us to repair the path into our hearts. The crooked areas needs straightening and our souls that have been bent and turned by too many false hopes need to return to God. The only way for us to get our souls made right with God is for us to turn our hearts toward the coming Savior. John said it best when he quoted the prophet Isaiah, saying, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Luke 3.4, RSV).
This Advent season, may we have the courage to ask God to repair our hearts so that we are truly prepared for the coming of the King of Kings, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen!
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY – DEPARTMENT OF RELIGION