The Preparation for the Kingdom
Prayer from Anglican Book of Common Prayer (2019)
Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, marn learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and the comfort of your Holy Word we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
The word of God is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). It was written for our instruction, for without it, we are condemned in our human nature. To study the Word is a gift, for even angels long to look at the things God reveals to us as we read, annotate, and learn just how marvelous our salvation is. And not only our salvation, but also the promise of Jesus in his glory, made possible for us by his fulfilling the whole law (Matthew 5:17).
Our salvation does not release us from the consequences of our fallen nature yet (Romans 7), but we are no longer condemned by it (Romans 8). There is a day coming when Jesus will return to reign in full glory, but that day is not yet. The prophets are clear that there will be great suffering and a turning away from God throughout the whole world. We see a glimpse of it through the words of Habakkuk, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel, Hosea, and Malachi. The repeated destructions of Jerusalem and the scattering of God’s chosen people time after time as just a taste of the devastation yet to come. That day will be unlike any other in intensity, terror, and woe ( Isaiah 2 & 13; Ezekiel; Joel 2; Malachi 4; Matthew 24; 2 Thessalonians 2; 2 Peter 3). At the end of that day, however, JESUS appears, not as a baby, but in all his brilliance (Revelation 19).
This second week of Advent is an opportunity to ponder what it means to be redeemed and refined, protected from wrath by God’s power through faith that is ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1). The second candle represents the prophets who foretold both the Incarnation and the Glory of Jesus. Our natural inclination toward self-interest is inherited from our forebears, but we have been born again through the living and enduring word of God (1 Peter 1; John 1). In this new life, we love earnestly, doing justly, showing mercy, and walking in a manner worthy of our calling. We view suffering as the Lord’s refining, not his punishment. We bury our eyes in the Word so that we clearly understand the purpose of the past, the peril of the present, and the promise of the future.