1st Sunday of Advent, YR 1
Oh Lord, open my lips
And my mouth shall proclaim your praise. (Ps. 51:15)
(from The Book of Common Prayer)
Almighty God, give me grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit me in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, I may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Morning Psalm, Psalm 24
The King of Glory
A Psalm of David
24:1 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
2 for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
5 He will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
7 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
9 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory! Selah
God of all creation,
open my heart
that Christ, the King of glory, may enter and rule my life.
Give me clean hands and a pure heart,
that I may stand in your presence and receive your blessing
through the same, Jesus Christ my Lord.
Psalm of Praise, Psalm 150
Let Everything Praise the Lord
150:1 Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens![a
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
Great and glorious God,
in your wisdom you created me,
in Jesus Christ you came to redeem me,
and through your Holy Spirit you guide and sanctify me.
Give me breath to sing of your majesty,
and with all creation,
praise you as the true life of all;
through Jesus Christ,
who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit;
one God forever.
Old Testament Reading, Isaiah 1:1-9
1:1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
The Wickedness of Judah
2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
for the Lord has spoken:
“Children[a have I reared and brought up,
but they have rebelled against me.
3 The ox knows its owner,
and the donkey its master’s crib,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”
4 Ah, sinful nation,
a people laden with iniquity,
offspring of evildoers,
children who deal corruptly!
They have forsaken the Lord,
they have despised the Holy One of Israel,
they are utterly estranged.
5 Why will you still be struck down?
Why will you continue to rebel?
The whole head is sick,
and the whole heart faint.
6 From the sole of the foot even to the head,
there is no soundness in it,
but bruises and sores
and raw wounds;
they are not pressed out or bound up
or softened with oil.
7 Your country lies desolate;
your cities are burned with fire;
in your very presence
foreigners devour your land;
it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.
8 And the daughter of Zion is left
like a booth in a vineyard,
like a lodge in a cucumber field,
like a besieged city.
9 If the Lord of hosts
had not left us a few survivors,
we should have been like Sodom,
and become like Gomorrah.
Epistle Reading, 2 Peter 3:1-10
The Day of the Lord Will Come
3:1 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Gospel Reading, Matthew 25:1-13
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
25:1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Reflection For the day
Amy and Will put up our Christmas tree yesterday. I’m sure many of you have already had your tree up for quite some time, and I won’t begrudge you that. But even for us who’ve put up decorations relatively late, and even for those of you who have yet to find a moment to up some decorations, the readings for today might seem rather odd. This is the start of the Christmas season, right? I mean, there are no other holidays in our way, right? Why do we have a psalm announcing a King and the need for uprightness? Why do we have to read about the rebellion of God’s people? What’s this cryptic warning from Peter about coming judgment? Why do we have this, frankly, disturbing parable from Jesus?
Christmas is not here. At least, not yet. And even for those of us who’ve been told time and again that we’re entering into Advent, it’s difficult to grasp what that means. Advent means “coming.” And certainly that means the coming of Jesus as a baby in a manger. The reading from Isaiah about a sinful people reminds us of the reason for this coming, of the need for Jesus to come in a manger.
Advent means “coming.” And for us, that means we are preparing for Jesus’ coming again. Our Advent calendars and candles help us count down to a time we know, the approach of December 25 and the start of the twelve feast days of Christmas. Advent is more than these calendars. It is more than a countdown to a remembrance of a past event. It is the warning for us that Jesus will come again in the future. He is not on our time, or even on his own time, but he is coming at a time only the Father knows.
What we do in the in-between time matters. Who will ascend to his holy hill? “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.” Jesus is coming. We need Peter’s reminder. We need the stirring up of our mind because the scoffers are plentiful, and we are tempted to follow them. It is easier to bring an empty lamp and ask for oil later. It’s easy especially if we’ve grown weary of the Bridegroom’s approach, especially if we’ve started to wonder if he’s even coming at all.
That’s the warning of the last, seemingly strange, parable. Jesus here is not telling us to ignore our neighbor in need. Clearly, the Gospels do not preach that message. The parable here is a warning against foolishness. On the day Christ comes again, you will not be able to rely on someone else to fill your lamp for you. If you are out shopping when the King returns, you will be shut out. The time to fill lamps is now.
The delay Peter mentions is pure grace. God does not desire that any be left out. God desires that all come to repentance. Remember his first Advent. Remember Christmas. The children of God had rebelled, Isaiah tells us. So God became a child of obedience. And God fills our lamps by his Spirit – full, overflowing, running down the side. The one who commands us to wait gives us all we need to do so. Be ready. Look to the Bridegroom. He will lead us in to the wedding feast.
Prayer for the Day
Take time to reflect and pray. Pray for those listed on our prayer list from worship. If you’d like to use it, here is a prayer to guide you:
(from The Book of Common Worship)
I lift my voice in a prayer of praise, holy God, for you have lifted me to new life in Jesus Christ, and your blessings come in generous measure. Especially I thank you for
the privilege of worship and service in my congregation . . .
the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ for me . . .
food and drink to share in the Lord’s name . . .
my calling to discipleship. . . .
I hold up before you human needs, God of compassion, for you have come to
me in Jesus Christ and shared my life so I may share his resurrection. Especially I pray for
the healing of those who are sick . . .
the comfort of the dying . . .
the renewal of those who despair . . .
the Spirit’s power in the church. . . .
(from The Liturgy of the Hours)
Grant your faithful, I pray, almighty God,
the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ
with righteous deeds at his coming,
so that, gathered at his right hand,
I may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.
Through my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Lord bless me, protect me from all evil, and bring me to everlasting life.