We are now approaching the end of the Church Year. The Church Year begins with Advent, the time of preparation for the coming of Jesus, and continues with the 12 Days of Christmas (Dec. 25 – Jan. 5). Then Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and the Pentecost season. The Church Year is designed to lead us closer and closer to Jesus, to grow in every way into Him. It begins with the coming of Jesus, born in Bethlehem, and ends with the Second Coming of Jesus. Jesus will come again, we do not know the day nor the hour, but His return is growing closer. Are you walking in faith in Jesus? Are you growing in Him as your Lord and Savior?
The First Reading, Amos 5:18-24, catches us off-guard. Amos talks about the coming of the Day of the Lord, and how the people to whom he was prophesying wanted the Day of the Lord; they thought it would be a day of reward for them, but Amos warns them that it will be a day of judgment and gloom. Why? Because the people refused to let their relationship with the Lord affect and change their daily lives; even though they claimed to be in relationship with the Lord, they were not living just nor righteous lives. Amos would ask us: are we letting the Lord change our lives so that we love God and our neighbors, as God would have us do?
Holy Spirit, work in our hearts and lives so that we live the faith we profess. Turn us from sin by turning us each day to Jesus. Enable our lives to show Jesus to others so that they can be drawn to Him as Lord and Savior. Amen.
Today’s Psalm, 70:1-5, is a psalm of lament. Notice that David is in great trouble. How does he respond to his trouble? He calls out to the Lord for deliverance, even asking God to intervene and turn back those who seek to harm him. Notice also David’s assurance that God will keep and protect His own, and that we can cry out “God is great!” because He rescues and redeems. In light of God’s faithfulness, David, and we, can call out to God for deliverance from sin, death, and the devil.
Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me! Lord God, we are humbled to think that we can cry out to You, and yet in Jesus we can. Open our hearts to comprehend the many ways You help and deliver us, especially in Jesus. Keep us trusting in You. Amen.
Last Sunday we celebrated All Saints Sunday and remembered and commended our loved-ones who have recently died to the Lord’s safe keeping. So, what happens to them? In the Second Reading, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, the apostle Paul gives us clear teaching – those who have died in the Lord are safe with Him, and when He returns they will return with Him; their bodies will be raised as immortal bodies, and those who trust in Jesus who are alive at His return will be caught up with Him, and with those who are with Him, to be with Him forever. Yes, we grieve at the loss of loved-ones in this life, but by grace through faith they are safe in His hands. Be comforted with the hope and assurance of the resurrection to eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus, we thank and praise You that all who die in faith in You are safe in Your keeping now and forever. Keep us in faith so that we will enjoy the peace of eternity with You and all of Your disciples. Amen.
The parable in the Gospel for today occurs only in the Gospel of Matthew. It is recorded in Matthew 25:1-13. We learn a lot about wedding practices at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, but that’s not the point of the story; the point of the story is that we do not know when Jesus will return, but that He will return. Are you ready? Are you spiritually awake? Are you relying on others to get you into the wedding banquet in heaven? Have you grown complacent in your walk with Jesus? What happens to the 5 in the parable who are not ready? Jesus concludes: Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Holy Spirit, keep us awake and ready for the return of Jesus so that we can rejoice in the wedding feast of the Lamb. Amen.