The Second Sunday of Advent
Based on 1 Corinthians 16:5-24
With these words, Paul concludes his letter to the congregation in Corinth. It might be titled, “What do we do in the meantime?” Paul has planted this congregation, but it is now struggling under pressures from outside the church (sexual immorality, pagan religious influences and corruption) and division within the church. He hopes to visit again, but until then, he is engaged in pastoral correspondence aimed at restoring and refocusing the faithful on the mission of Jesus Christ. As he closes his letter, he provides some suggestions regarding what to do in the meantime. He begins this letter reminding them of “the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 1:4-8, emphasis added).
Paul was well aware that though Jesus’ return in power and glory was expected at any time, already Christians were losing sight of that fact, being caught up in bickering, quarreling and division. As time passed and time continues to pass, disciples necessarily ask, “What are we to do in the meantime?”
The advice is the same for us, as for those Corinthians: “be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like adults, be strong.” Similarly, watch for, and give heed to those who “refresh my spirit as well as yours.” There will always be difficult, skeptical people who destroy our spirit of hope and encouragement. Avoid those, and seek, rather, the faithful, hopeful, and encouraging who are here to uplift and build up the Body. We need lots of people in the Body of Christ who refresh our spirits. Perhaps you can be one of those who work for unity, love and peace in the congregation! What do we do in the meantime? What do we do as we wait, in these dark days of Advent, for the coming of Christmas? Pray, with Paul, “Our Lord, Come!”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, come, and come quickly! Help us to be watchful, to stand firm in the faith, to be mature disciples — strong, patient and obedient. Amen.
Advent action: NALC Life-to-Life Discipleship is about raising up mature disciples and followers of Jesus, who will be leaders. Check out nalclifetolife.org and learn more!
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.
7:1 During the reign of Ahaz son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah son of Remaliah of Israel marched up to Jerusalem to do battle, but they were unable to prevail against it.
2It was reported to the family of David, “Syria has allied with Ephraim.” They and their people were emotionally shaken, just as the trees of the forest shake before the wind. 3So the Lord told Isaiah, “Go out with your son Shear-jashub and meet Ahaz at the end of the conduit of the upper pool which is located on the road to the field where they wash and dry cloth. 4Tell him, ‘Make sure you stay calm! Don’t be afraid! Don’t be intimidated by these two stubs of smoking logs, or by the raging anger of Rezin, Syria, and the son of Remaliah. 5Syria has plotted with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah to bring about your demise. 6They say, “Let’s attack Judah, terrorize it, and conquer it. Then we’ll set up the son of Tabeel as its king.” 7For this reason the Sovereign Lord says:
“It will not take place;
it will not happen.
8For Syria’s leader is Damascus,
and the leader of Damascus is Rezin.
Within sixty-five years Ephraim will no longer exist as a nation.
9Ephraim’s leader is Samaria,
and Samaria’s leader is the son of Remaliah.
If your faith does not remain firm,
then you will not remain secure.”
10The Lord again spoke to Ahaz: 11“Ask for a confirming sign from the Lord your God. You can even ask for something miraculous.” 12But Ahaz responded, “I don’t want to ask; I don’t want to put the Lord to a test.” 13So Isaiah replied, “Pay attention, family of David. Do you consider it too insignificant to try the patience of men? Is that why you are also trying the patience of my God? 14For this reason the Lord himself will give you a confirming sign. Look, this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, young woman, will name him Immanuel. 15He will eat sour milk and honey, which will help him know how to reject evil and choose what is right. 16Here is why this will be so: Before the child knows how to reject evil and choose what is right, the land whose two kings you fear will be desolate. 17The Lord will bring on you, your people, and your father’s family a time unlike any since Ephraim departed from Judah – the king of Assyria!”
18At that time the Lord will whistle for flies from the distant streams of Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria. 19All of them will come and make their home in the ravines between the cliffs, and in the crevices of the cliffs, in all the thorn bushes, and in all the watering holes. 20At that time the Lord will use a razor hired from the banks of the Euphrates River, the king of Assyria, to shave the hair off the head and private parts; it will also shave off the beard. 21At that time a man will keep alive a young cow from the herd and a couple of goats. 22From the abundance of milk they produce, he will have sour milk for his meals. Indeed, everyone left in the heart of the land will eat sour milk and honey. 23At that time every place where there had been a thousand vines worth a thousand shekels will be overrun with thorns and briers. 24With bow and arrow men will hunt there, for the whole land will be covered with thorns and briers. 25They will stay away from all the hills that were cultivated, for fear of the thorns and briers. Cattle will graze there and sheep will trample on them.(NET Bible)
130:1 A song of ascents.
From the deep water I cry out to you, O Lord.
2O Lord, listen to me!
Pay attention to my plea for mercy!
3If you, O Lord, were to keep track of sins,
O Lord, who could stand before you?
4But you are willing to forgive,
so that you might be honored.
5I rely on the Lord,
I rely on him with my whole being;
I wait for his assuring word.
6I yearn for the Lord,
more than watchmen do for the morning,
yes, more than watchmen do for the morning.
7O Israel, hope in the Lord,
for the Lord exhibits loyal love,
and is more than willing to deliver.
8He will deliver Israel
from all their sins.(NET Bible)
1 Cor. 16:5–24
16:5 But I will come to you after I have gone through Macedonia – for I will be going through Macedonia – 6and perhaps I will stay with you, or even spend the winter, so that you can send me on my journey, wherever I go. 7For I do not want to see you now in passing, since I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord allows. 8But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, 9because a door of great opportunity stands wide open for me, but there are many opponents.
10Now if Timothy comes, see that he has nothing to fear among you, for he is doing the Lord’s work, as I am too. 11So then, let no one treat him with contempt. But send him on his way in peace so that he may come to me. For I am expecting him with the brothers.
12With regard to our brother Apollos: I strongly encouraged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was simply not his intention to come now. He will come when he has the opportunity.
13Stay alert, stand firm in the faith, show courage, be strong. 14Everything you do should be done in love.
15Now, brothers and sisters, you know about the household of Stephanus, that as the first converts of Achaia, they devoted themselves to ministry for the saints. I urge you 16also to submit to people like this, and to everyone who cooperates in the work and labors hard. 17I was glad about the arrival of Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Achaicus because they have supplied the fellowship with you that I lacked. 18For they refreshed my spirit and yours. So then, recognize people like this.
19The churches in the province of Asia send greetings to you. Aquila and Prisca greet you warmly in the Lord, with the church that meets in their house. 20All the brothers and sisters send greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
21I, Paul, send this greeting with my own hand.
22Let anyone who has no love for the Lord be accursed. Our Lord, come!
23The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
24My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
[Luther writes:] “Here the Spirit plainly ascribes to Scripture that it allumines and teaches, that understanding is given alone through the words of God as through a door for, as they call it, a first principle (principium primum) with which everyone who will come to light and understanding must begin. Again: “‘Principle or head of thine words is truth’ (Ps. 119:160). There you see that truth is here ascribed only to the head of the words of God, that is, if you learned the words of God in the rst place and used them as the first principle when you judged the words of all. And what else does this whole psalm do than to condemn the foolishness of our labor and call us back to the fountain (revocet ad fontem) and teach us that we should rst of all and alone spend our labor on the Word of God and that the Spirit is ready to come voluntarily and to expel our spirit so that we pursue theology without danger? … Therefore, nothing but the divine words are to be the first principles (prima principia) for Christians, all human words, however, are conclusions which are deducted from them and must again be reducted to them and approved by them. They must first of all be well known to everyone but not sought through men nor learned by them, but men must be judged by them. If this were not true, why should Augustine and the holy Fathers, whenever they contradict each other, go back to the holy Scripture as to the first principles of truth (ad sacras literas seu prima principia veritatis) and illumine and approve by their light and trustworthiness their own that is dark and uncertain? By doing so they teach that the divine words are more understand- able and certain than the words of all men, even their own … I do not want to be honored as one who is more learned than all, but this I desire that Scripture alone rule as queen (solam Scripturam regnare), and that it is not explained through my spirit or other men’s spirit but understood by itself and in its own spirit.” (77)
–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.