BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Romans xv. 4.
WHATSOEVER things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
St. Luke xxi. 25.
AND there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
(Book of Common Prayer)
On this 2nd Sunday in Advent, God continues to lead us in this semi-penitential season of celebrating the first coming of Christ, and living a life of repentance and faith to prepare for his second coming.
The Apostle admonishes us to draw our learning from the Scriptures which give us patience, comfort, and hope. Beyond that, he also calls us to receive one another, for God has received us in Christ. Although Christ came initially to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, bearing witness to the truth of the Scriptures and confirming the promises to the fathers, the Father’s plan all along was to receive the Gentiles and open to them the way of salvation. The kingdom of heaven has spread for nearly two-thousand years as God has called out from the nations a people for Himself, a people who once were in darkness without hope and without Christ. This is the great blessing of the first coming to us Gentiles, and we should daily glorify God for His mercy.
For this reason, how much more zealous in communing with God in prayer, reading the Scriptures, fellowshipping with the saints, and by participating in the sacraments we should be! As the abject evil, sin, and depravity of the world manifest themselves to us daily, especially over the past month or so, it is imperative we remain close to the Lord and allow Him to continually fill us with His Spirit. How important it is to repent if we fall, and to repair that communion as we live our lives in this world. Paul’s benediction contains all for which we hope: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
We know not the day nor the hour in which the Lord will return to judge the quick and the dead. It will happen, though, as the Lord said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” We may be alive to see that glorious day, or God may require our souls of us long before. Whichever the case may be, we should always be prepared by living lives of repentance and faith, walking with our Lord as closely as possible, and maintaining fellowship with our brothers and sisters. We will thus always be ready to meet our Savior. Above all, let us ever glorify God for his mercy and grace toward us, a people who were not a people, but who are now the people of God. Amen.