(15 Dec. 2013, 14 Dec. 2014, 13 Dec. 2015)
O LORD Jesus Christ, who at your first coming did send your messenger to prepare your way before you; Grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready your way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in your sight, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit forever, one God, world without end.
ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Isaiah 35; Psalm 80:1-7; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 11:2-10
Another aspect of preparation and anticipation during the Advent season is the proclamation and warning of the coming judgment. In the Gospel reading, Jesus affirmed John the Baptist’s role as the prophet sent to prepare his way, and in the epistle Paul identified himself as a steward of God’s mysteries who also sought to warn people to prepare for the final judgment when God’s light will expose every hidden thing. As today’s collect says, the work of “turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just” continues throughout this age until Christ returns. The Psalm is an example of prayer for the sin still in our own midst, and the Old Testament reading is a description of the redeemed world to come once judgment is complete, including the warning that the wicked will not be permitted to enjoy any of it.