Sunday, December 13, 2015

Time in the Word - Advent 4

The theme for the Fourth Sunday in Advent is How God Sent His Son. Next Sunday, we turn our attention toward the Nativity of Our Lord. With Mary we await the coming of the Christ, her Son, conceived in her womb by the Word and Spirit of God. As the Lord dealt graciously with her and did great things for her (Luke 1:48–49), so also he manifests Himself and His glory to us in mercy and gentleness. He comes to rule His people in peace, to “shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord.” He comes forth not from the great capital city of Jerusalem, but from lowly little Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2, 4). He comes to sacrifice Himself, in fulfillment of His Father’s will, for the salvation and sanctification of His people (Heb. 10:10). He who once visited Elizabeth while hidden in the womb of Mary (Luke 1:39–45), now comes to visit us today, hidden in the lowliness of simple water, bread and wine.

Time in the Word
14–19 December 2015
Preparation for next week, the Fourth Sunday in Advent
Monday, 14 December 20151 Samuel 2:1b, 2, 5b–7; Antiphon, Luke 1:46b–47—As the birth of our Lord draws near, the sense of anticipation and expectation is heightened. The antiphon is taken from the Magnificat, the song of the blessed Virgin when she visited and was blessed by Elizabeth, and the as-yet-unborn John leaped in Elizabeth’s womb in joy of being in his Savior’s presence. The entire antiphon looks forward to the salvation of the Lord, the salvation made concrete when the Son of God assumed flesh, and the salvation which was accomplished when He died on the cross. By His death and resurrection, He has brought us to life, made us rich, and exalted us.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015Psalm 80:1–7—Twice in this section (and thrice in the entire psalm), the refrain beseeches the Lord, Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we | may be saved! The immediate context of the psalm was the dark days which had fallen upon the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the people and her kings having forsaken the true God and lapsed into idolatry. For us, the darkness is that of sin, which we desire to be put away and atoned for. Such has been accomplished for us by the Savior of the world, God in man made manifest to us: Jesus Christ. He has saved and restored us.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015Micah 5:2–5a—Seven hundred years before the birth of our Lord, the prophet Micah was sent by God to rebuke the people for their idolatry and prophesy about the coming Christ. Here, he tells where the Savior is to be born: Bethlehem, the city of David (who was from the clan of Ephrathah). In his Gospel, St Matthew cites this prophecy as fulfilled in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, 17 December 2015Hebrews 10:5–10—Christ came as a tiny Baby born in a manger in Bethlehem, but let us take care not to romanticize the scene too much. He came for one purpose, and that was to do His Father’s will by offering up His body as a sacrifice for us, so that we—who could never please God, whether by our conduct or by any sacrifices which we ourselves could offer—so that we might be saved and made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Friday, 18 December 2015Luke 1:39–45 (46–56)—The Gospel for Sunday tells of the Visitation, when the blessed Virgin Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist. Both John and Elizabeth were jubilant to be in the presence of the Son of God, even while He was in the womb of His mother. John leaps, Elizabeth blesses Mary, and Mary responds by singing the Magnificat.

Saturday, 19 December 2015—The hymn of the day, Once in Royal David’s City (LSB 376), was designed by composer by Cecil Frances Alexander as a catechism hymn, to go along with the Second Article of the Creed: I believe in…Jesus Christ…conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. It tells the story of the birth of Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem, Royal David’s City, as foretold by the prophet Micah.

Collect for the Fourth Sunday in Advent: Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come and help us by Your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by Your grace and mercy; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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