The Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent, Dec. 6, 2015
Full readings are here.
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
“See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.”
~ Malachi 3:1-4
The Second Week of Advent continues our time of reflection. Following our self examination we now reflect on the amazing grace of God in the gift of his Son for the forgiveness of our sin. We are invited to receive the gift of cleansing and forgiveness the Lord has offered through him. He is our peace.
The Lord has cleared the path and made a way for us to receive this forgiveness. How? Through a history of actions on behalf of his people and proclamations through prophets of old and now John, he has been preparing our minds and hearts for this truth. It is nothing new. It is rock solid. It is well-prepared. Through the simple actions of baptism and faith, we can accept this gift of forgiveness, and live in the freedom and peace and joy it brings.
Without it, who can endure his coming? (Malachi 3:2) But with it, we are holy offerings! When we have received the forgiveness the Father freely offers to all, the proof is in the Christmas pudding. We produce a “harvest of righteousness” that brings praise to God. (Phil. 1:11)
Do you struggle with receiving forgiveness? Do you wonder if you have repented enough? “Enough”is one of those concepts that trips us up. It plays havoc with our psyche and entangles us in a place of bondage to guilt. God meant for it to be straight forward. All sin is covered by the sacrifice of Christ. To say, “all but this one or that” misses the point. God has thought of everything and provided for all sin that “and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Luke 3:6
Do you feel that you have to work it off somehow? The scriptures say that righteous deeds follow forgiveness, not lead to it. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
This Advent, we can choose to receive forgiveness. How great would it be to come to Christmas Day and know that you have finally let go of the guilt and and burden over some sin? What a cause for celebration! When we wish each other Peace every Sunday and on many a Christmas card, this is what we mean:
May the Peace that only forgiveness in Christ brings be yours, now and always. Amen