Prayer from Anglican Book of Common Prayer (2019)
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son, Jesus Christ,, came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Historically, the first two weeks of Advent focus on the final coming of the Messiah in all his glory as he established his everlasting kingdom. The people of the first covenant, the direct descendants of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, rebelled from and returned to their Creator over and over again. With every restoration to prosperity and influence, idolatry captured the nation within a generation or two. Each time, God allowed his people to be punished by conquering nations, enslavement, famine, pestilence, and disease. Finally, God stopped rescuing his people for a time, saying, ” Behold my anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place…this is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perish; it is cut off from their lips…” (Jeremiah 7).
Jeremiah cried out to the people, “Cut off your hair and cast it away; raise a lamentation on the bare heights, for the Lord has rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath.” The total capitulation of God’s people to the cultures in which they lived ultimately cut them off from the Lord, Himself. There was no longer a balm in Gilead, and the people were scattered around the world (Jeremiah 8-9).
God’s righteousness and justice will always prevail over evil, but his love and mercy offers a promise of hope. Isaiah wrote, “For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love, I will have compassion on you,’ says the Lord, your Redeemer (Isaiah 45). In God’s steadfast love, he promises to make a way of reconciliation for the storm-tossed people, and offers living waters to every thirsty one who comes to him (Isaiah 55, John 4).
God extended this hope to all people in the Incarnation; without the Incarnation there is no Resurrection. The first candle of Advent is the hope for all the nations: Jesus ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Isaiah 55; 1 Corinthians 15; Revelation 5). Every tribe. Every language. Every culture. The Incarnation is for everyone.