The theme of this coming Sunday is we witness to the One who is coming as the Christ. In Advent 1 we anticipated Christ’s Second Coming. In Advent 2 we prepared for His coming. In the Gospel John the Baptist witnesses that Jesus, not John, is the Messiah. Under the unction of the Spirit, (Old Testament lesson) God’s servant witnesses by proclaiming good news of liberation to the oppressed and handicapped. Although the Epistle lesson does not specifically mention witnessing, Paul gives directives that would cause the quality of a Christian’s life to be a witness to Christ. The Hymn of the Day harmonizes with the theme of witnessing: ‘Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding!”
In former years this Advent 3 was know as “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete was the first Latin word of the Introit meaning “Rejoice.” Advent 3 was also knows as “Minister’s Day” a day in the ancient and medieval church for ordinations.
Collect for Advent 3—Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers and to lighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Weekly Book of Concord Reading, Advent 2Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article V—Law and Gospel
[The Gospel reading is from Mark, chapter 1, which opens with the words, ‘The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ…’ If we are to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God, correctly, it is incumbent upon us to proclaim both repentance and divine mercy.]
The term Gospel is used in two ways in the Holy Scriptures and also by ancient and modern Church teachers. Sometimes it is used to mean the entire doctrine of Christ, our Lord, which He proclaimed in His ministry on earth and commanded to be proclaimed in the New Testament. Therefore, this includes the explanation of the Law and the proclamation of the favor and grace of God His heavenly Father. For it is written, ‘The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.’ (Mark 1:1) And shortly afterward the chief points are stated: Repentance and forgiveness of sins. So when Christ, after His resurrection, commanded the apostles to ‘proclaim the gospel to the whole creation’ (Mark 16:15), He compressed the sum of this doctrine into a few words. He also said, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations.’ (Luke 24:46-47) Paul, too, calls his entire doctrine the Gospel (Acts 20:21). He summarizes this doctrine under two points: Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. In this sense, the general definition of the word Gospel, when used in a wide sense and without the proper distinction between the Law and the Gospel, is correctly said to be a preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. (¶3–5)
Excerpted from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord, edited by Paul T. McCain, et al., © 2005 Concordia Publishing House, p. 552–53.
Monday, 8 December 2008—Psalm 85:8–9, 12–13; Antiphon, Psalm 85:7—During this season of preparation by way of repentance, we pray that, even as we break with the sins of our past, the Lord would not let us turn back to folly. Our sin is persistent, and we can never conquer it by our own doing. Our only hope is in the Lord, who will speak peace to His people and will give what is good. He does this through our Savior, Jesus, for righteousness goes before Him.
Tuesday, 9 December 2008—Psalm 126—This psalm was composed when the Israelites returned from the Babylonian Exile. When God delivered them, their mouths were initially filled with laughter and their tongues with shouts of joy. But the hardships they faced upon return tested their faith in the Lord’s promise to restore the fortunes of Zion.
This psalm provides comfort that those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! Likewise, when we face unexpected hardships and suffering, we can take comfort that the Lord has done great things for us. The greatest thing He has done is restored us by the death of our savior, His Son, Jesus Christ.
Wednesday, 10 December 2008—Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11—God’s anointed messenger is here proclaimed. He will proclaim the good news of relief and release to the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, those who are bound, and those who mourn. All these things describe us in our sinful state: We are poor, lacking the riches of fellowship with God, and thus brokenhearted; we are captives of, and in bondage to sin, and thus can only mourn our condition. But the One whom the messenger proclaims will give us the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit, that we may be called oaks of righteousness.
Thursday, 11 December 2008—1 Thessalonians 5:16–24—What is our response to and our witness of Christ has accomplished for us? That we rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances. This we can do, because we are no longer in our former state, as people who have no hope, in bondage to sin. Christ has set us free, and gives us His gifts of Word and Sacrament, that our whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Friday, 12 December 2008—John 1:6–8, 19–28—When the priests and Levites confronted John the Baptist, asking him who he was, he responded that he was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah in the Old Testament reading. John is the man sent from God, the voice of one crying out in the wilderness. He went before the Lord Jesus, to prepare the way for Him, to bear witness to Him. John baptized and preached a message of repentance. Likewise, we still heed John, and prepare ourselves for the celebration of the coming of Christ in the flesh by repenting of our sins.
Saturday, 13 December 2008—The hymn of the day, Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding (LSB 345), tells of the work of John the Baptist. His voice is thrilling to believers, for his voice heralds the coming of our Savior, Jesus.
Pr. Jeffrey Keuning Dexter, IA contributed to December's Time in the Word
LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LECTIONALRY PREACHING WORKBOOK SERIES B © 1981 John Brokhoff CSS Publishing Lima, OH
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