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Thursday of the Third Week in Advent

For many people today, the language of “faith” connotes an unreasoned judgment about what is true, what it means to be religious, or perhaps it even brings to mind what we Christians believe, “the faith.” But faith is much more common, and elusive, than we tend to assume. We exercise faith in order to acknowledge history, to learn details from our childhood, and to trust that those we love want what is best for us. Faith is not reducible to feelings. Nor is it simply a matter of belief, for example, that God exists. Faith involves our minds and hearts in trusting what we cannot see or prove. When it comes to what matters most, such trust is necessary for human knowing and loving; we believe so that we may know and love.
Trust is difficult in a world filled with distractions, objects and narratives competing for our attention, trust, and affections. The plots of these alternative stories, the good things disproportionately enjoyed, and destructive or disordered relationships draw us in, shape the rhythms of our lives, and reveal what we believe to be real, meaningful, and true.
As with the Jews of first-century Palestine, then, our lives and our loves are confronted by the divine Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us (John 1:14). Even as we attempt to fix our eyes on Emmanuel, God with us, like Jesus’ disciples in Gethsemane or amidst the crowds, we become sleepy and our attention diverted. Out of the slumber of life in this world, Christ’s Advent, then and now, calls us to return to the glorious Christ child, remembering God promise to be for us sealed in Christ.
The bridegroom for whom we wait is none other than the Christ child, Jesus, “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David” (Revelation 5:5). The One who is alone worthy of corporate human and angelic praise is our Lord Jesus Christ in whom we put our faith. As with Thomas, Jesus’ doubting apostle, we are all susceptible to doubt. In receiving Jesus as the lion and the lamb who alone has the power to open the scroll and who alone is worthy of our worship, we trust God’s promise to be for us, to be worthy above all of our fear, love, and trust.

Prayer: Gracious God, our heavenly Father, in Your tender love towards us sinners, You have given us your Son that, believing in Him, we might have everlasting life. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit, that our faith in Christ may increase daily, and that we may remain steadfast in this faith to the end and come to life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord, amen.

Devotion written by Dr. Alexander H. Pierce

“St. Thomas, Apostle”, O Oriens/O Dayspring

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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