Third Sunday of Advent (December 17, 2017)
- First reading
- Second reading
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 | New Living Translation (NLT)
16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
19 Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. 20 Do not scoff at prophecies, 21 but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. 22 Stay away from every kind of evil.
23 Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 24 God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.
While I know this, it was interesting to discover again that the Advent scriptures and readings do not necessarily “tell” the Christmas story. They are all about preparing the way. The Old Testament passage today, is one that Jesus reads in the synagogue and tells the hearers that the prophecy has been fulfilled in him.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
The Gospel lection (or lesson) for today tells about John the Baptist – the preparer of the Way. Advent is indeed a season of preparation for the coming of Jesus. Each of these passages today, look toward the coming of Jesus – and again – both his first and second Advent.
Paul in this passage in 1 Thessalonians speaks to us in preparing our hearts. With all the turmoil in our world today – and even in our country – it seems things are spinning – quite literally – out of control – Paul gives us directions, as believers, for preparing our hearts
The hymnwriter Isaac Watts wrote: “Let every heart prepare him room.” Christ is coming. Paul writes: “God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.” So the faithful one, that is God, is calling his people to be faithful. This week, God brought me a verse that I currently have as my Facebook cover.
God who is faithful is calling us to prepare the way of the Lord. How do we do that? Paul tells us:
- Always be joyful
- Never stop praying
- Be thankful – in all circumstances (That’s a whole sermon there!)
- Do not stifle the Holy Spirit
- Do not scoff at prophecies – or the forthtelling of God’s word – however, test them to make sure they are of the Lord.
- Hold on to what is good
- Stay away from evil
As we remember that Christ is coming, this is a good list to remember. Paul prays for the believers that God would make us holy and blameless – set apart to do God’s work. God is faithful and he calls us to be faithful – no matter what, because Christ is coming.