We are now at the Second Sunday of Advent, and fast moving toward the celebration of the birth of Jesus; but let us not move too quickly to the celebration of Christmas, let us allow Advent to be Advent – a time of preparation for the coming of Jesus. Let us use Advent to prepare for the many ways Jesus comes to us – the prophecies of His coming, His birth in Bethlehem, His coming to us in Word and Sacrament, and His return on the Day of the Lord. Let us repent of sin and be open to His continual strengthening of us in faith, hope, and love.
The context of today’s First Reading, Isaiah 40:1-11, is that God’s people have rebelled against Him and have refused to repent. The prophet Isaiah has warned them time and time again to repent, to return to the covenant the Lord has made with them, but they will not. Isaiah has prophesied that the Lord will punish His unrepentant people, which He did when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem; but in this passage, the Lord, speaking through Isaiah, gives words of comfort and hope, the time of punishment will end, and the Lord will tenderly restore and lead His people. Notice both warning and hope in this passage.
Lord God, by Your Holy Spirit open our ears, hearts, and lives to You: to hear Your call to repentance; move us to daily repentance of sin. And enable us to hear Your words of comfort and forgiveness which we have in Jesus. Give us Your peace through Christ alone. Amen.
As is customary, today’s Psalm, 85:1-13, continues the theme of the First Reading. Notice that the Psalm opens with a prayer to God stating His actions of forgiveness and restoration to His people in the past. The Psalm then prays that the current anger and punishment from the Lord experienced by the people would come to an end. Notice the emphasis on God’s faithfulness to forgive and restore as the people repent.
Lord, in our struggles, hardships and heartaches of life, keep before us Your mercy and steadfast love, keep us firm in faith that we can look to You for grace and help in our time of need. Keep before us Jesus, our Lord and Savior, and His victory over sin, death, and the devil. Amen.
People wonder why Jesus has not returned, and we often long to have Him return and put all things right. Today’s Second Reading, 2 Peter 3:8-14, gives a good reason why Jesus has not yet returned – His delay gives people time to repent, to turn from sin. The delay of Jesus’ return is grace, that more and more people will come to faith in Jesus.
How are we to live as we wait for Jesus’ return? Listen to what the apostle Peter tells us. Notice also Peter’s description of the End of the World when Jesus returns – the images are powerful and frightening; but in Christ, we wait for the new heavens and earth in which righteousness dwells. Peter then ends with a call to holy living.
Holy Spirit, prepare us for the return of Jesus: keep us in faith, and let our words and actions be witness to Jesus as Lord and Savior. Amen.
Today’s Gospel, Mark 1:1-8, picks up on the First Reading; notice how Mark quotes and uses the passage from Isaiah – God has made promises, and He keeps His promises. In keeping His promise to send a Messiah, God also promised to send a messenger ahead of the Messiah to prepare the way; this messenger is John the Baptist. Notice John’s message to the people of his day, and to us as well – repent, turn from sin. Notice also that John the Baptist didn’t seek attention and glory for himself, John pointed to Jesus. Let us hear and heed John’s message, let us repent, and then let us be like John the Baptist and point to Jesus so that others see Jesus and are led to Him in repentance and faith.
Holy Spirit, thank You for calling us to faith in Jesus, faith which enables us to repent. As we are made new each day in Jesus, empower us with Your compassion for others so that we reach out to them, proclaiming Jesus to them through our words and deeds; work in their hearts to bring them to faith in Jesus. Amen.