O LORD, raise up, we pray thee, thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
Philippians iv. 4.
REJOICE in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
St. John i. 19.
THIS is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; he it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
The focus of Advent has been one of repentance and preparation for the second coming of Christ while remembering the first. Yet, we must remember that on the other side of repentance is grace, mercy, joy, and peace. By God’s power and grace we run the race set before us, surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. We rejoice in the life in Christ, a life of prayer with thanksgiving. We are not in this alone.
Just as our Lord came to us the first time to save us from our sins, and will return to judge the living and the dead, Christ comes to us every day. He meets us in his word where he encourages and rebukes us by the Holy Spirit, leading us further into repentance and faith. He meets us at his table, where we feed upon him in remembrance of him, and receive spiritual nourishment. He meets us when two or more of us gather in his name for worship and fellowship. He meets us in our daily lives, in our vocations, in our relationships. We are not in this alone.
On the other side of repentance, all of life is worship; all of life is ministry to the world around us. Life is Emmanuel, God with us at all times and in all ways. Keep these things in mind as you enter the new year, and walk with prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. Walk in the power, grace, and mercy of God. You are not in this alone.
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”