Bread – Sequence

December 19, 2011


Readings for Monday, December 19, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Zeph. 3:14-20; Titus 1:1-16; Luke 1:1-25; Psalms 61, 62, 112, 115

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The sequence of things is important and today’s readings present a very important sequence in the life of the believer.

In the Old Testament, we have the first step in the sequence – God acts. Because we are in the season of Advent, the beginning of the church new year focused upon the birth of Jesus, we recognize the importance of this prophecy from Zephaniah: “Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment … The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you…The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.” Zeph. 3:14b-17

In the New Testament lesson from Titus, we discover that the next step in the sequence, the quality of our response, is revealed by how we behave – “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him.” Tit. 1:16

In the third step of the sequence, God, knowing our failure, sends people to encourage us in the journey, to help prepare our hearts to truly accept God and become obedient to Him. In this season, that person whom God sent is John the Baptist – “And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous – to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Lk. 1:17 Therefore, John had a ministry of calling the faithful to repentance, to prepare their hearts for the day of the Lord, to turn them from themselves toward the Lord and, with the strength of the Lord, toward each other.

There is a tendency in this time of year to get stuck in the second stage of this sequence – to be so wrapped up in the preparations for Christmas that we run the risk of denying the very God we claim to worship by our actions. In today’s readings, God reminds us that, during this season, we need to remember that (a) Christmas is the celebration of “God with us” for the purpose of saving us, and (b) we become ready for God, not with frantic holiday shopping, but by repenting, by turning toward Him, by listening to the wisdom of the righteous.

What do our actions today reveal? Celebration of His coming? Preparation for the day of the Lord? Or Denial of His existence and power in our lives?

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