Home > Reading > Daily Reading – December 16, 2022

Psalm 130:5–6 (Listen)

  I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
  my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.


Friday of the Third Week in Advent

Waiting can be excruciating. Young travelers are wont to ask in this season, “Are we there yet?” Or perhaps, more seriously, we know the dire waiting for things like diagnostic results from a health care lab. In this season, one cannot but help think of prisoners of war wondering when they will see freedom. Waiting is not only excruciating, it is fraught with danger. The dark nights can be filled with doubt and sorrow. We in the northern hemisphere are less than a week away from the longest night of the year and, as such, Advent finds us pondering how we shall wait with the watchmen in our text. Perhaps more deeply, Advent is an opportunity to ask in those dark nights exactly what it is for which we long and wait.
While waiting can be fraught with danger, it can also be a time to ponder why it is that the Word became flesh to dwell among us in the first place. It can be a time of deep longing, or a time of lament. Why is it taking so long?
Strangely enough I am drawn to a piece of music that gives voice to the longing. It is by an Irish composer, performed by an African American baritone, and made popular by Riverdance. It is entitled “Freedom” and lifts the longing itself as a prayer, “Lord, where is our freedom?  When will our hope begin?  Lord, what of the promise you made? When will it come?” 
In our Gospel reading from Matthew today, John too, languishing in prison, waits. The dark nights seem to have brought doubts since he boldly declared, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
John needs a word from his Lord to sustain him in the between-times. Not only does Jesus send a word for John to sustain him in the waiting and longing, and perhaps even the lament, but Jesus also gives us a clue about what we might do while we wait. Go and tell! See and hear how He goes about making all things new even as the kingdom comes. Bear witness to what we see and hear, embarking upon ministry, preaching the Good News. And through it all, Jesus affirms that John’s ministry — and ours — is not in vain. We just aren’t there yet.
Finally, I think of another hymn that highlights the importance of Christian community throughout these long nights. You might read, sing, or reflect upon LBW 355 “Through the Night of Doubt and Sorrow.”

Prayer: From the O-antiphons of the longest night “O Oriens”
O Dayspring, splendor of light everlasting and sun of justice: Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen.

Devotion written by The Rev. Kevin Ree

This daily prayer and Bible reading guide, Devoted to Prayer (based on Acts 2:42), was conceived and prepared by the Rev. Andrew S. Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). After several challenging years in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been provided with a unique opportunity to revitalize the ancient practice of daily prayer and Scripture reading in our homes. While the Reading the Word of God three-year lectionary provided a much-needed and refreshing calendar for our congregations to engage in Scripture reading, this calendar includes a missing component of daily devotion: prayer. This guide is to provide the average layperson and pastor with the simple tools for sorting through the busyness of their lives and reclaiming an act of daily discipleship with their Lord. The daily readings follow the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year daily lectionary, which reflect the church calendar closely. The commemorations are adapted from Philip H. Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals and Commemorations, a proposed common calendar of the saints that builds from the Lutheran Book of Worship, but includes saints from many of those churches in ecumenical conversation with the NALC. The introductory portion is adapted from Christ Church (Plano)’s Pray Daily. Our hope is that this calendar and guide will provide new life for congregations learning and re-learning to pray in the midst of a difficult and changing world.

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