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Preparing for the Day
“Almighty God, who came to us long ago in the birth of Jesus Christ, be born in us anew today by the power of your Holy Spirit. We offer our lives as home to you and ask for grace and strength to live as your faithful, joyful children always. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (Rueben Job)
2 Peter 3:11-18
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. f That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
The Great Tradition
May glory always be given to God our Lord and Savior, both now when we are still in the flesh and far from him, wandering through the daily pressures of our adversaries, and especially at that future time when he who has been long desired shall come to all the nations and deign to illuminate us by his presence. Meanwhile, as we await that glorious day, let us go on singing: “One day in your courts is better than a thousand.” (Bede)
Prayer of Confession
O God, as the Advent season reminds us of your imminent return, we also see the many places in our lives where we have been too careless in our ways and too free to walk the paths you would not have us travel. Forgive us, Lord, and take our hand that you might lead us into your paths of righteousness for all to see. Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.” (James Wilson)
In what places in your life have you been “too careless in your ways?” What paths have you walked that the Lord “would not have you travel?” In today’s text, the Apostle Peter reminds us that heaven and earth, in their current state, will not continue. They will be consumed, not with rain this time but with fire. We therefore must be careful how we walk in this world, always with an eye on the “day of God.” My longtime mentor is fond of saying there are only two days we ought to have marked on our calendars: today and “that day.” By “that day” he means the same as Peter, the day of God when Christ will return and bring an end to everything as we know it. Or, as C.S. Lewis put it, that moment when the author walks onto the stage and signals the play is over.
But this scene ought not be horrifying to Christians, those who look forward to the day of God and pray with the Apostle John, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). For on that day there will be brought forth a new heaven and new earth where the righteous will dwell (v. 13). Yet while we wait, we are not to be idle and unfaithful. Peter warns us to “make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with [the Lord]” (v. 14).
More than that, we should rejoice that God is so patient. How many times have you thanked God for his patience with you throughout your life? Are you grateful the Lord did not return during earlier times in your life? Would you have been ready for him then? Even now, as someone who knows Christ, do you continue to make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with God? And while you understand you are not saved by your conduct; you know very well that your outward behavior can be an all too accurate indicator of what is taking place in your heart. Considering that sober reality, how grateful are you for the patience of God?
Therefore, take Peter’s warning to heart and “be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position” (v. 17). Indeed, let’s continue to grow in the faith and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (v. 18), even as we await his return.
As we progress through the Advent season, let’s remember that our preparation is twofold: we anticipate the birth of Christ, and we eagerly await his return. On this pilgrimage, may we be filled with gratitude for God’s patience, vigilant in guarding our faith, and committed to growing in grace and knowledge. As we do so, we will be ready for the Day of God, not with fear but with joy and expectation. Let’s continue to sing, "One day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere," knowing that the best is yet to come. Amen.
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Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path: (Proverbs 23:19)
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.