Daily Archives: December 17, 2021

Evening Prayer: December 17th

Grant, O eternal God, that we may lie down in peace, and raise us up, O Sovereign, to life renewed. Spread over us the shelter of your peace; guide us with your good counsel; and for your name’s sake, be our Help. Shield us from hatred and plague; keep us from war and famine and anguish; subdue our inclination to evil. O God our Guardian and Helper, our gracious and merciful Ruler, give us refuge in the shadow of your wings. O guard our coming and our going, that now and always we may have life and peace. In the name of our Blessed Savior, Jesus. Amen.

Daily Scripture Passage: Isaiah 56:1-8

Isaiah 56:1-8 (ESV)

Salvation for Foreigners

56 Thus says the Lord:
“Keep justice, and do righteousness,
for soon my salvation will come,
    and my righteousness be revealed.
Blessed is the man who does this,
    and the son of man who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it,
    and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say,
    “The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;
and let not the eunuch say,
    “Behold, I am a dry tree.”

For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
    who choose the things that please me
    and hold fast my covenant,
I will give in my house and within my walls
    a monument and a name
    better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
    that shall not be cut off.

“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
    to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
    and to be his servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
    and holds fast my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain,
    and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
    for all peoples.”
The Lord God,
    who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,

“I will gather yet others to him
    besides those already gathered.”

Thoughts to Ponder from Psalm 85:2-4

Christmas Churchb

Psalm 85:2-4 (ESV)

You forgave the iniquity of your people;
    you covered all their sin. Selah
You withdrew all your wrath;
    you turned from your hot anger.

Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
    and put away your indignation toward us!

Do you hear these words? If there were ever words that speak profoundly into the Advent hope – these words from Psalm 85 are the words. How, you might ask.

First, there is a given that we are aware of. Sin and death have had a profound impact on the human story. As I have mentioned before, we do not have to look very far to see this reality. We are inundated day in and day out with headlines from the news that speak only too well about this reality. I don’t imagine there is one person who is reading this who hasn’t been touched personally either by a death that was absolutely life shattering. If it wasn’t death, maybe it was a broken relationship, a terribly painful illness, being treated unfairly and unjustly. As much as we like to think that all people treat on another with dignity and respect, we know that this isn’t necessarily the reality of things. Some of us have walked through valleys that have been very dark and very painful. What are we to do??

You see, God heard the plight of his people. He heard the prayers of his people. From the dawning of time – God has heard. The simple prayer is spoke in Psalm 85. It was the prayer of a people who had known what it was like to be in captivity with Egypt. It was a prayer from the heart of one who knew what it was like to have one’s world turned upside down with persecution, war, and death. From the depths of the hearts of people came the prayer, “Restore us again, O God of our salvation and put away your indignation towards us.” Profound words in a prayer! Here is a lesson for us. One of the characters we meet on the road of Advent is John the Baptist who brings in the message of preparation: Repent. For some reason, many in the church have forgotten this concept or we simply don’t like to talk about it except for maybe a mention during the season of Lent. But Advent is also a season of preparation and in that preparation is the admonition to repent. Repentance is how we as the people of faith prepare our hearts for God. God has always been the God of salvation and as the God of salvation, when God’s creation repents and turns to him – salvation comes in full!

What is the proof of this? Jesus, whose birth we celebrate in just over a week. Jesus, whose coming again is embedded within our orthodoxy as Christian people. The God who comes is the God of salvation who hears the plight of his people and acts in a decisive way to bring about deliverance and thus sets the captives free! Where, O death is thy victory? Where, O death, is thy sting? Where sin, is your power? When that tiny baby drew his first breath in a humble manger – death and sin knew their power was defeated – and a little over thirty years later – the exclamation point was put on that when Jesus rose from the dead!

This is the Advent hope! The God of salvation has acted on behalf of his creation, his children. He has forgiven us our iniquity and through the blood of Christ on the cross – he has covered our iniquity! Now there is nothing that separates us from the love of God! Now there is nothing that has ultimate power and dominion over us. Now there is nothing that honestly can take away the hope that we have through Jesus. We have been restored, we have been healed…the deep heart healing that broken creation so longs for. God has promised that through Jesus, we have been adopted as sons and daughters of God.

What more hope do we need? We are forgiven. We are free. We are children. We have eternal life. As you come into the ending point of Advent – embrace the Advent hope and live it!