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|A member of a community self-help group in Kenya.
© ABM/Ivy Wang 2014
See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. Then I will draw near to you for judgement; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow, and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts. For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, have not perished. Ever since the days of your ancestors you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will anyone rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say, ‘How are we robbing you?’ In your tithes and offerings! You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me—the whole nation of you! Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing. I will rebuke the locust for you, so that it will not destroy the produce of your soil; and your vine in the field shall not be barren, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will count you happy, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts. You have spoken harsh words against me, says the Lord. Yet you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What do we profit by keeping his command or by going about as mourners before the Lord of hosts?
Song of Zechariah
Blessed are you, Lord, the God of Israel:
you have come to your people and set them free.
You have raised up for us a mighty Saviour:
born of the house of your servant David.
Through your holy prophets, you promised of old:
to save us from our enemies, from the hands of
all who hate us,
To show mercy to our forebears:
and to remember your holy covenant.
This was the oath you swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship you without fear:
holy and righteous before you, all the days of our life.
And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High:
for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way,
To give God’s people knowledge of salvation:
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God:
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death:
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that on the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11 having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
HYMN: On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry
Tune: Winchester New (Musicalisches Handbuch 1690 arr. W H Havergal)
Sung by the choir of Southwell Minster
1. On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
Announces that the Lord is nigh;
Awake and hearken, for he brings
Glad tidings of the King of kings.
2. Then cleansed be every Christian breast,
And furnished for so great a Guest!
Yea! Let us each our hearts prepare
For Christ to come and enter there.
3. For Thou art our salvation, Lord,
Our refuge and our great reward,
Without thy grace our souls must fade,
And wither like a flower decayed.
4. Stretch forth thine hand, to heal our sore,
And make us rise, to fall no more;
Once more upon thy people shine,
And fill the world with love divine.
5. All praise, eternal Son, to thee,
Whose advent sets thy people free;
Whom with the Father we adore
And Spirit blest for evermore. Amen.
Words: Charles Coffin, 1736, and John Chandler, 1837. Translation of the Latin hymn, Jordanis oras prævia.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” ’
Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent
As we watch and wait with eager anticipation, we must also prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. As we venture into the spiritual wilderness of our lives, we need to remind ourselves that our hearts cannot receive the Lord unless we, like John the Baptist prepare his way. This is a time for inner cleansing so that we might make room to receive Him and experience the joy of his coming.
Written by The Rev Laurette Glasgow, Special Advisor for Government Relations for the Anglican Church of Canada and the Diocese of Ottawa © Anglican Board of Mission, 2015
ANTHEM: This is the Record of John
Composer: Orlando Gibbons 1583-1625
Sung by the choir of St Matthew’s Church, Ottawa, Canada
1. This is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who art thou?’ And he confessed and denied not, and said plainly, ‘I am not the Christ’.
2. And they asked him, ‘What art thou then? Art thou Elias?’ And he said, ‘I am not’. ‘Art thou the prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No’.
3. Then said they unto him, ‘What art thou, that we may give an answer unto them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself?’ And he said, ‘I am the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord’.
Words: John 1.19-23 (based on William Tyndale’s first edition of the New Testament,1526)