Monday of the Week of Advent III
Based on 2 Corinthians 5:15-6:13
I appreciate this format, which is different from the early days when I prepared Advent and Lenten devotionals for my congregations. Then, each was a snippet of Scripture, with a brief devotion on a half-size page. This larger size allows for more Scripture, and I am thankful we can include the entire reading above. If you don’t have time to read these simple thoughts, then read the Scripture!
The message is clear — God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to reconcile us to Himself, through the death and resurrection of that only begotten Son. And now, God has given to us this ministry of reconciliation. We are to share the Good News that in Christ God is reconciling the world to Himself, not counting our trespasses against us. Now, God has entrusted this message of reconciliation to us. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” We are to share the Good News of this reconciliation — the Good News of the coming of the Prince of Peace. We are also to embody, to live this reconciliation, day by day, in home and family, in congregation and community. How else can we be ambassadors for Christ?
Prayer: Lord God, help us to not be restricted in our own affections. With the love of Christ, widen our hearts that we may more readily be ambassadors for Christ in His ministry of reconciliation. Amen.
Advent action: Consider two things you can do to be an ambassador of reconciliation.
This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about Blessed is He Who Comes, visit thenalc.org/advent.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
14:1 The Lord will certainly have compassion on Jacob; he will again choose Israel as his special people and restore them to their land. Resident foreigners will join them and unite with the family of Jacob. 2Nations will take them and bring them back to their own place. Then the family of Israel will make foreigners their servants as they settle in the Lord’s land. They will make their captors captives and rule over the ones who oppressed them. 3When the Lord gives you relief from your suffering and anxiety and from the hard labor that you were made to perform, 4you will taunt the king of Babylon with these words:
“Look how the oppressor has met his end!
Hostility has ceased!
5The Lord has broken the club of the wicked,
the scepter of rulers.
6It furiously struck down nations
with unceasing blows.
It angrily ruled over nations,
oppressing them without restraint.
7The whole earth rests and is quiet;
they break into song.
8The evergreens also rejoice over your demise,
as do the cedars of Lebanon, singing,
‘Since you fell asleep,
no woodsman comes up to chop us down!’
9Sheol below is stirred up about you,
ready to meet you when you arrive.
It rouses the spirits of the dead for you,
all the former leaders of the earth;
it makes all the former kings of the nations
rise from their thrones.
10All of them respond to you, saying:
‘You too have become weak like us!
You have become just like us!
11Your splendor has been brought down to Sheol,
as well as the sound of your stringed instruments.
You lie on a bed of maggots,
with a blanket of worms over you.’(NET Bible)
137:1 By the rivers of Babylon
we sit down and weep
when we remember Zion.
2On the poplars in her midst
we hang our harps,
3for there our captors ask us to compose songs;
those who mock us demand that we be happy, saying:
“Sing for us a song about Zion!”
4How can we sing a song to the Lord
in a foreign land?
5If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
may my right hand be crippled.
6May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
and do not give Jerusalem priority
over whatever gives me the most joy.
7Remember, O Lord, what the Edomites did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
They said, “Tear it down, tear it down,
right to its very foundation!”
8O daughter Babylon, soon to be devastated,
how blessed will be the one who repays you
for what you dished out to us.
9How blessed will be the one who grabs your babies
and smashes them on a rock.(NET Bible)
2 Cor. 5:16–6:13
5:16 So then from now on we acknowledge no one from an outward human point of view. Even though we have known Christ from such a human point of view, now we do not know him in that way any longer. 17So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come! 18And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 19In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation. 20Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making his plea through us. We plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God!” 21God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.
6:1 Now because we are fellow workers, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2For he says, “I heard you at the acceptable time, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation! 3We do not give anyone an occasion for taking an offense in anything, so that no fault may be found with our ministry. 4But as God’s servants, we have commended ourselves in every way, with great endurance, in persecutions, in difficulties, in distresses, 5in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in troubles, in sleepless nights, in hunger, 6by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by benevolence, by the Holy Spirit, by genuine love, 7by truthful teaching, by the power of God, with weapons of righteousness both for the right hand and for the left, 8through glory and dishonor, through slander and praise; regarded as impostors, and yet true; 9as unknown, and yet well-known; as dying and yet—see!—we continue to live; as those who are scourged and yet not executed; 10as sorrowful, but always rejoicing; as poor, but making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
11We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart has been opened wide to you. 12Our affection for you is not restricted, but you are restricted in your affections for us. 13Now as a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts to us also.(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
[Luther writes]: “The Holy Spirit is the most simple writer and speaker in heaven and earth; therefore His words have only one sense, the most simple one, which we call the literal sense.” … “In order that these word jugglers may be seen in their true light, I ask them, who told them that the fathers are clearer and not more obscure than the Scripture? How would it be if I said that they understand the Fathers as little as I understand the Scriptures? I could just as well stop my ears to the sayings of the Fathers as they do to the Scriptures. But in that way we shall never arrive at the truth. If the Spirit has spoken in the fathers, so much the more has He spoken in His own Scriptures. And if one does not understand the Spirit in His own Scriptures, who will trust him to understand the Spirit in the writings of another? That is truly a carrying of the sword in the scabbard, when we do not take the naked sword by itself but only as it is encased in the words and glosses of men. This dulls its edge and makes it obscurer than it was before, though Emser calls it smiting with the blade. The bare sword makes him tremble from head to foot. Be it known, then, that Scripture without any gloss is the sun and the sole light from which all teachers receive their light, and not the contrary. This is proved by the fact that, when the fathers teach anything, they do not trust their teaching but, fearing it to be too obscure and uncertain, they go to the Scriptures and take a clear passage out of it to shed light on their teaching, just as we place a light in a lantern, and as we read in Ps. 18: ‘Thou wilt light my lamp, O Lord.’” (77–78)
–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.