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Second Sunday in Advent

Isaiah 5 is a love song. The lush vineyard described in this chapter is the Lord’s gift to His beloved. He planted Jerusalem in hope that it would produce fine wine to gladden the hearts of all. But instead of the fruit of holiness, God has found in Jerusalem the rotten fruit of injustice, of violence against the poor and the needy.
To love is to be vulnerable to betrayal, to disappointment and heartache.
This song is the Lord’s lament over a world where religious people engage in hatred and unspeakable violence in His name. It’s a song sung in a minor key, mourning racial tension in our communities, the brutality of African warlords, and the greed of corporate Wall Street executives who choose money and power over compassion for the vulnerable.
Mourning the ruinous consequences of His beloved’s choices, God allows Israel to be destroyed by the Assyrian Empire. Ten of its tribes disappear forever. Jerusalem is leveled, the people carried into exile, and the beautiful vineyard reduced to a stump. The law says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).”
I’m a stump. So are you. The good news of God’s unconditional love for us doesn’t negate the consequences of our sin. We still suffer painful consequences for our wrong choices.
Yet while we were yet sinners and lawbreakers, Christ died for us. Jesus took our guilt upon Himself and let our violence and injustice destroy Him on the cross. This is our hope of salvation, and the promise of God’s blessing for all nations.
Often it is only when our pride has been crushed by adversity that we are ready to receive God’s promised grace. It is then that the song of lament changes keys to become a song of gladness!

Prayer: Lord God, in seasons when everything we were counting on for security, identity, and hope has been stripped away, fill us again with the Holy Spirit and grant us repentant hearts, that we may receive the promised mercy and blessings that alone can turn our sorrow into joy; in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Devotion written by The Rev. Jeff Morlock

“John of Damascus, Priest, c. 760”

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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