Waiting has got to be one of the most difficult things to do, especially when we are suffering and it seems that God does not see. Come, this first Sunday of Advent to hear what God promises as we wait for Christ to return and restore what is broken.
Of all the seasons of the church year, Advent most closely mirrors the daily lives of Christians and of the church, asks the most important ethical questions, presents the most accurate picture of the human condition, and above all, orients us to the future of the God who will come again.
Nothing can save us that is possible.
—W. H Auden, “For the Time Being”
2 Peter 3:1-13
3 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
17 I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him. 18 Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion. 19 And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. 21 They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against their king and their God, and turn their faces upward. 22 And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.
9 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
2 The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
3 You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
CONFESSION OF SIN:
Father, the light of your salvation shines in the world and the darkness cannot overcome it.
Yet we live as if your light cannot defeat darkness.
Forgive us for doubting your salvation.
Through your Spirit, you never abandon us; your name is Emmanuel, “God with us.”
Yet when life becomes difficult, we fear your presence has left us.
Forgive us for turning to other things for comfort.
Jesus, at your return you promise to wipe away all tears and heal all pain.
Yet instead of trusting you to restore your world, we take matters into our own hands.
Forgive us for doing what is right in our own eyes.
Lord, of these things we repent.
Help us to trust you, live as your light, ever-waiting for your return.
Come, Lord Jesus!
SONG TO CONSIDER:
Music: Bruce Benedict, (c) 2012 Cardiphonia
Long in mortal shadows, we
Walked in bondage and self-pity,
Trod in paths of sin and grief.
In the prophets’ words He told us,
Long the God of Israel spoke;
He alone in strength would save us
From the hands of all our foes.Every valley be exalted!
Every mountain be made plane!
Crooked ways repent and straighten;
All creation bend in praise!
2. He shall raise a mighty Savior;
Born of David’s lineage, He
Comes in cov’nant love to claim us
From our sins to set us free.
Light to those who dwell in darkness
Life to those from death who flee
Joy unto the earth, and gladness,
To your pathways dawning peace!
3. Jesus, Lord, and mighty Savior,
David’s Son and yet his King,
Dawning light of our salvation,
Of your saving pow’r we sing!
Stand, Oh lame, and dance ye broken,
Know the Savior’s healing grace;
Come, Oh deaf and hear him singing;
Turn, Oh blind, behold his face!