Readings: Isaiah 1:21-31; Psalm 33; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Luke 20:9-18
While the world around us has been listening to sentimental songs about the Babe in the manger and white Christmases since the day after Halloween, we are trying to focus on the mystery and the meaning of God sending His only begotten Son into our world to be the Word made flesh to dwell among us. While I’m not rigid about Christmas music and love Santa as much as the next guy, the reason for the gift of Advent in the Church is to give us time to pause in the midst of the craziness to consider the width and breadth and depth of the incarnation. We want to ponder what it means that the one true God wants to be “God with us.” We want to meditate on the fact that the Son of God came — and comes!
It seems somewhat out of place to have the above passage from Luke 20 as a reading during Advent, given the destruction and violence in the parable. Still, it is a powerful reminder that God sent His Son, the Heir to the tenants of His vineyard, and they rejected Him. And not only did they reject Him, but they killed the Heir, thinking they would now take His inheritance. And in this parable, we see the fullness of the Gospel narrative. God sent His Son to the rebellious, disobedient people. They (we) killed Him, thinking we could have the whole world as our own. God raised His Son, Jesus, from death, making Him the cornerstone of the Church — and our lives, forever.
As we think about, pray about, the mystery of God become flesh in His Son, Jesus, the parable Jesus tells is a proclamation of the Good News — calling forth in us a response. Because Jesus was raised and is with us — what does it mean that He is the cornerstone of our lives? How are we building upon that sure foundation — in the midst of a pandemic, political and social unrest, struggles and uncertainty in life?
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, be my solid rock and grounding, that I never waver. Amen.
Advent Action: Listen to or sing from a hymnal, “Built on a Rock.”
Advent is a time of preparation! As John the Forerunner called people to “prepare the way of the Lord,” this Advent many Christians will look for additional opportunities to prepare inwardly while also preparing outwardly. As we prepare our homes and churches for celebrating Christmas, most hope to have additional time to read Scripture, pray, worship and meditate, and we look for quiet time to prepare our hearts and lives for the many ways the Lord comes to us.
These devotions are for home and personal devotion, in addition to communal Advent worship. Our prayer is that they provide the reader with a brief, accessible devotional to deepen the Advent journey. They are written for those who may regularly spend in-depth time in Scripture and prayer but are also prepared in the hope that those who do not have a practice of daily devotions may find them a useful tool in developing a holy habit that may continue on long after Christmas.
This Advent daily devotional booklet, appropriately titled, Prepare the Way of the Lord, is based on the two-year daily lectionary provided in the Lutheran Book of Worship, Year I. This series of daily lessons is intended for Advent prior to odd-numbered years. The daily lectionary appoints three lessons for each day, and a seasonal psalm. For the purposes of this booklet, one reading has been chosen as the basis for each day’s reflection. The entire reading is usually provided, although there has been some verses left out due to space available. When the biblical text is longer, we have provided that entire text with a shorter devotion because the Word of God is more powerful than our humble reflections.
The Rev. Dr. Dan Selbo, bishop of the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), has prepared a bit longer devotion for each of the Sundays in Advent, along with a devotion for Christmas Day. The Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism, has prepared the brief weekday and Christmas Eve devotions.
The prayer following each devotion may be seen as a “prayer starter,” encouraging your thoughts to go deeper into prayer, or you may find them sufficient as printed. After each prayer is an Advent Action, encouraging an appropriate and thoughtful simple response to the reading and reflection.
For your information, these devotions are available in a variety of formats at thenalc.org/advent.
READING THE WORD OF GOD GUIDE
7:66 The entire group numbered 42,360— 67not counting their 7,337 male and female servants. They also had 245 male and female singers. 68They had 736 horses, 245 mules, 69(7:68) 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys. 70Some of the family leaders contributed to the work. The governor contributed to the treasury 1,000 gold drachmas, 50 bowls, and 530 priestly garments. 71Some of the family leaders gave to the project treasury 20,000 gold drachmas and 2,200 silver minas. 72What the rest of the people gave amounted to 20,000 gold drachmas, 2,000 silver minas, and 67 priestly garments.(NET Bible)
122:1 A song of ascents; by David.
I was glad because they said to me,
“We will go to the Lord’s temple.”
2Our feet are standing
inside your gates, O Jerusalem.
3Jerusalem is a city designed
to accommodate an assembly.
4The tribes go up there,
the tribes of the Lord,
where it is required that Israel
give thanks to the name of the Lord.
5Indeed, the leaders sit there on thrones and make legal decisions,
on the thrones of the house of David.
6Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
May those who love her prosper.
7May there be peace inside your defenses
and prosperity inside your fortresses.
8For the sake of my brothers and my neighbors
I will say, “May there be peace in you.”
9For the sake of the temple of the Lord our God
I will pray for you to prosper.(NET Bible)
2:12 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write the following:
“This is the solemn pronouncement of the one who has the sharp double-edged sword: 13‘I know where you live—where Satan’s throne is. Yet you continue to cling to my name, and you have not denied your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was killed in your city where Satan lives. 14But I have a few things against you: You have some people there who follow the teaching of Balaam, who instructed Balak to put a stumbling block before the people of Israel so they would eat food sacrificed to idols and commit sexual immorality. 15In the same way, there are also some among you who follow the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16Therefore, repent! If not, I will come against you quickly and make war against those people with the sword of my mouth. 17The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will give him some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and on that stone will be written a new name that no one can understand except the one who receives it.’(NET Bible)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.