This season, I wanted to begin a devotional for Advent. Unfortunately, with school work and internship work, I began it late. But, better late than never!!! Here is the portion from November 29th to December 9th. After this, each day until December 25th I will be posting a devotional.
This Advent Devotional was created by my current seminary school Luther Seminary in St Paul, MN. It is called "O Lord, How Shall I Meet You?" If it sounds familiar to you, it is because it comes form ELW 241 Hymn "O Lord, How Shall I Meet You?" (see picture at bottom of blog)
For your convenience, I am putting today's devotional first.
Wednesday, December 9
1 Thessalonians 5:16–24
Concluding his letter to the Christian community at Thessalonica, Paul exhorts
his readers collectively as a body, not as individuals. He uses plural verbs and
pronouns, which is evident in Greek but not in English. Some instructions relate
to corporate worship, such as rejoicing, praying, giving thanks, and listening
to prophets. Other instructions have to do with behavior, such as honoring the
good and resisting evil. All of this is to anticipate “the coming of our Lord Jesus
The Advent season is one of anticipation, both for the celebration of the
coming of Christ as the Son of God and son of Mary and for his coming again
in his own good time. Faith looks to the future of God, who is faithful in life now
and in life to come. In the meantime, we gather to rejoice, pray, give thanks,
and listen to the Word of God—and we seek to be good to one another.
Bless, O Lord, our congregation that it may worship and serve in ways that are
pleasing to you. Amen.
Sunday, Nov 29
"O Lord, How Shall I Meet You?"
Advent is derived from the Latin word "advenio," which means "to come to, to arrive." Paul Gerhardt's great hymn assumes the Lord is coming. Our preparation does not cause him to come. that was true in Jesus' time, is true in our time, and will be true at the end of time. This hymn isn't about our preparation at all, but rather is about God's coming. God came incarnate in the past, God comes to us now in word and sacrament, and God will come again at the end of time. The only questions is "O Lord, how shall I meet you, how welcome you aright?" Gerhardt's hymn describes Christ's work - kindling a lamp within us, giving us a crown, embracing us in love, and guiding us safely home. Advent focuses not on our preparation, but on God's work for us, coming to us repeatedly to kindle, give, embrace, and guide.
O Lord, we thank you that you come, that you came today, and that you will come in the future. Help us to welcome you aright. Amen.
Monday, November 30
The writer knows a people who have experienced defeat and destruction. In
that situation, it is easy to question what kind of God we have and what that
God has in mind for us. It is to these people that Isaiah directs his message.
God’s people experience comfort, firm in the knowledge that their Lord is
coming. The ephemeral quality of our existence contrasts sharply with the
Word that stands forever. Isaiah assures us that God has not forgotten or
forsaken God’s people. The one who comes indeed comes with might and
comes in a way that changes the very landscape, does not come to destroy us
but rather to comfort us, feed us, and gather us to Godself. God’s coming is not
to be feared but to be welcomed. Truly, these are good tidings for all people!
We thank you that you have not forsaken us but rather come to comfort us. Help us to
tell the good tidings of your coming. Amen.
Tuesday, December 1
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
“Surely his salvation is at hand ...” summarizes the message of Advent. But
what is the real result—what is the content—of that salvation? Forgiveness,
full pardon, restoration, steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness, peace, good
gifts, and God’s glory among us. All given by God. It is almost as if the psalmist
struggles to find adequate words to describe what the LORD God brings and
what happens when God comes. God speaks and, in God’s speaking, comes to
us. We are hearers of God’s promise and recipients of God’s gifts. Can we find
the words to describe them? And will we trust and live in their reality?
Help us to believe and trust that your salvation is at hand. Help us to know the depth
and breadth of what that salvation means. Amen.
Wednesday, December 2
2 Peter 3:8-15a
“The Lord is not slow about his promise ... but is patient with you ...” Here
we are invited to reflect on what sort of God we have: a God whose sense of
timing is different from ours, a God who keeps promises, a patient God—but
also a God whose day comes in a surprising fashion, “like a thief.” While we
usually fear thieves, an unwelcome and destructive interruption in our lives,
God’s coming will bring new heavens and a new earth, “where righteousness
is at home.” God’s coming brings something much better than what we have,
and something we could never create ourselves. In this assurance—and in no
other assurance—we are “found by him at peace.”
O Lord of time and space, we thank you that you are faithful to your promises. Grant
us faith to trust that your coming brings us new possibilities. Amen.
Thursday, December 3
For Martin Luther and his followers in the 16th century, John the Baptist
was the paradigmatic evangelical preacher. He preached law, calling for
repentance, and gospel, pointing to Christ. They did not admire or praise John
because of his odd lifestyle, unusual dress, or distinctive culinary choices. No,
what was most important about John was his message. He did not advocate
imitation of his unusual lifestyle; he preached the coming Christ. John knew
that he was not worthy even to untie the thong of Christ’s sandals—and yet
he also knew that his calling was to be the messenger, sent to preach Christ
and thereby prepare the way. Both the confidence and humility of John might
impress us—but in the end he points to Christ, and invites us to as well.
Lord, help us to hear clearly both your word of judgment and your word of
forgiveness. Help us to live in humility and hope. Amen.
Friday, December 4
John’s choice of location is odd—why not head for the city, where you can be
assured that a good number of people will be around to hear your message?
Instead, he appeared in the wilderness. Yet the message he preached drew
people out to him in the wilderness, drew them to confession and to baptism.
His message bore fruit, yet he always realized “the one who is more powerful
than I is coming after me.” The announcement of that coming one had a
power that overcame many obstacles, that drew people out of their comfort
zones into a new place, and that created a movement thought impossible.
Simple words—yet words laden with power and possibilities. Can we hear
those words today?
We thank you, Lord, that your word comes and creates a new reality. Amen.
Saturday, December 5
“O Lord, How Shall I Meet You?” (ELW 241, stanza 1)
Our Lord comes—and we are left with the question of how to welcome him
properly. This is not a question we direct at other people but rather to the Lord
himself. The hymn writer knows that only the one coming can be clear about
what a proper welcome is. So we who sing along ask the one who is coming
to kindle “your lamp within my breast,” with the result that in humble spirit we
will do “all that may please you best.” Notice that this is not about offering our
best to God; it is about God creating the appropriate welcome for God's own
Advent. Advent is not about our self-made works of welcoming but rather is
about the work of God who creates, redeems, and sustains us.
O Lord, light a fire in us. Let it burn brightly, and let us do what pleases you. Amen.
Sunday, December 6
“O Lord, How Shall I Meet You?” (ELW 241, stanza 2)
What chains or fetters bind you—addiction, hatred, stereotyping, violence,
doubt, fear? The list goes on. Whether a result of your own actions or of the
actions of others, they cause pain, harm, and shame. The promise is that the
Lord comes to set us free from our chains. And not just that—the Lord goes
further to honor us and give us crowns. Rather than being prisoners at the
bottom of the social scale, we find ourselves at the top, wearing a crown.
A crown is traditionally worn by a ruler, one who is not ruled by another.
Martin Luther reminded us that God gives us all that God possesses and
takes all that is ours (Luther called this the “happy exchange”). So we receive
the crown, and God takes our chains. The coming of the Lord results in a
radical reversal—all to our benefit.
O Lord, thank you that in your coming you have freed us and crowned us. Amen.
Monday December 7
Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11
The afflicted, brokenhearted, imprisoned, mourners, and devastated—these
are the ones to whom the good tidings came and still come. God is not only
faithful from a distance but comes bearing good tidings of an actual change
in our situation. Now we are "a people whom the Lord has blessed," and we
are clothed with the garments of salvation. Many in the COVID-19 pandemic
have experienced fear, sickness, isolation, and mourning. These are precisely
the people to whom God brings good tidings and comfort. We can rest
assured that, despite appearances to the contrary, God is at work bringing
righteousness and blessing in the midst of it all. God reminds us that the
story is not over; it has taken a very different turn. God’s promise of new life,
embodied in God’s coming to us, causes us to rejoice.
Lord, thank you that your word of life comes especially to the afflicted, those who
mourn, the brokenhearted, the imprisoned, and the devastated. Amen.
Tuesday, December 8
Recalling God’s restoration of the fortune of the people of Israel (probably
referring to the return to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile around 539 B.C.E.
or later), the psalmist relies on God to act again, perhaps in a time of drought
and famine. Through faith, the psalmist is certain that restoration and joy in
the past can be replicated in the present and on into the future. And so the
petition, “Restore our fortunes, O Lord.”
We may not have restoration in mind, but our world is nevertheless, repeatedly,
in need of renewal. The season of Advent is a time of hope for renewal. That
comes as we hear and rejoice in