Happy New Year! This Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent, four Sundays before Christmas, is the beginning of the new Church Year. The four Sundays of Advent are Sundays that prepare us for the coming of Jesus. Interestingly, the First Sunday of Advent does not look to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, but rather to His return at the end of time. One day, time in our world will come to an end; the specifics of when and how that will happen are unknown to us. What we are assured of is that we know the end of the story even before it happens, this gives us hope and assurance as we face each day. Notice how the readings point us to the end of time, but more importantly, notice how the readings point us to the fact that God is in control of the end and that we are safe in His hands.
The First Reading is recorded in Isaiah 2:1-5. This passage assures us that One Day the Lord will be the center of all humanity, that nations will seek Him and learn from Him. Notice that as the passage ends there is the assurance that one day there will be no more war, but that the peoples of the earth will live in peace and go about the daily activities of life.
Lord God, the world we live in is a world of chaos, turmoil, and warfare. Assure us that One Day you will bring peace through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Let us live in that hope, and empower us with Your love to be peacemakers. In the Name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Today’s psalm is 122. This is a psalm that a pilgrim coming to the Temple in Jerusalem would pray as they approached the Temple. Notice the importance of gathering at the place of worship, and also the peace that comes from being in worship. May we have the peace of the Lord as we worship and glorify Him.
Holy Lord, as we gather for worship, give us the peace that passes all understanding, the peace that Jesus alone can give. Amen.
The Second Reading is found in Romans 13:8-14. The Gospel affects our daily lives, the Gospel of Jesus changes us. In this reading the apostle Paul reminds his readers that the 10 Commandments are summed up in the phrase, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” May we love the Lord and others as God first loved us.
Notice also that Paul reminds his readers that the return of Jesus is drawing near, and that this assurance should cause us to live in ways that turn us from sin and to lives that are lived in anticipation of His return.
Loving Lord, we thank and praise You for Your love for us. Let Your love make us new every day so that our words and actions reflect Your love, and that they will be words and actions that point others to You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
The Gospel is recorded in Matthew 24:36-44. What will the time approaching the End of the World be like? Often it is portrayed in chaotic and tumultuous ways, but in this passage, people are going about their day-to-day activities and suddenly the End comes. Other passages talk about tumult and chaos as the End nears. So, which will it be? Who knows for sure? Possibly both/and, both a time of chaos and a time of peace before the End. How do we live? Be ready, we do not know the day nor the hour of His return.
Lord God, ruler of all, we do not know the day nor the hour of Your return, but keep us in anticipation and excitement as we wait, trusting in You to redeem Your people and to set all things right. Keep us ready! In Jesus we pray. Amen.