Bible Readings for Dec. 2, 2018

This is the First Sunday of Advent, the beginning of a new Church Year. The Readings for the First Sunday of Advent always begin at the End, we are told the End of the Story even as it begins. There is great comfort in this since we know how God will end the Story of creation and history even as we begin to hear it again throughout the Church Year.

The First Reading for today is recorded in Jeremiah 33:14-16. Notice that the Lord promises to fulfill the promises He has made in the past. We are impatient people, and we want God to fulfill His promises now, but God sees with a longer time frame, and will fulfill His promises at the right time. The reading for today includes a couple of promises: that God will send a righteous Branch – Jesus – at the right time, and that one day, yet to be fulfilled, the righteous Branch will rule over all, setting all things right. When will this happen? Soon? Within out lifetimes? At a time in the future after us? We do not know, but we do know and trust that God will fulfill all of His promises at the right time.
Faithful Lord, we hear again Your promise to fulfill all of Your promises. We thank and praise You that at the right time You sent the righteous Branch, Your Son Jesus, to be our Lord and Savior. Enable us to wait in patience and faith until that Day when He returns and makes all things the way You intended from the beginning. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

The psalm is recorded in Psalm 25:1-10. This is a psalm filled with prayer. The psalmist, David, is in great trouble, and cries out to the Lord for help and deliverance, imploring God to rescue so that his enemies will not have reason to boast and gloat. Notice how the psalmist prays that God will teach and lead him because God is faithful to keep His promises. Notice that the psalmist lifts up many petitions for, e.g. knowledge, forgiveness, that the Lord will continue to extend His steadfast love and mercy, that God will remember him because of Who God is. Let us have faith like the psalmist, trusting in God’s faithfulness, steadfast love, and mercy.
God our protector, we live in a world that increasingly is hostile to You and Your ways. As your children we feel the hatred and anger of the world. By Your Holy Spirit keep us firm in faith, trusting in Your steadfast love and mercy, and trusting that One Day You will set all things right. In Jesus’ Name, Who is the victorious Lord, we pray. Amen.

The Second Reading is part of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, 3:9-13. Notice how Paul prays for, and gives thanks for, the Thessalonians. They are such a blessing, and Paul longs to see them face-to-face and strengthen them in faith. Notice the second paragraph of the reading, where Paul reminds the Thessalonians that God is in charge, and that He causes them to remain in Himself; it is God Who directs Paul’s travels, it is God Who enables them to love, and to increase in love, it is God Who establishes their hearts blameless and in holiness before Himself. Let us remember that it is God Who is at work in us both willing and accomplishing His tasks in and through us.
Loving Lord, enable us to always keep our eyes fixed on You, trusting that You will establish and strengthen us in Christ so that we are Your people in the world. Enable us to be Your ambassadors in whom You are seen so that others are drawn to You in faith. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

The Gospel, Luke 21:25-36, gives us a glimpse of the end of the story here at the beginning; have hope and trust in the Lord, He will faithfully keep His promises, and His promises mean life and salvation to His people. Reading through the text sounds like reading through today’s news: distress among nations, fear, foreboding. What will come next? Notice that as the terrors of the times are described by Jesus, the next verse (27) proclaims that He will come again when these things happen; when the worst comes, Jesus comes and brings the best. Our response? Stand up straight, raise our heads, our redemption is drawing near! Pray for strength to endure, trusting in Jesus’ promise to return because He will return.
Most holy Jesus, when times grow worse, open our eyes to see You at Your best – returning to redeem Your disciples. Enable us to stand tall in faith, trusting that Your words will always stand firm. Keep us from being distracted by the glitter and the turmoil of life, keep us strong in You. In Your Name we pray. Amen.

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