O Lord, raise up your power, and come among us, and with great might help us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are hurt and hindered in running the race that is set before us, your bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through the satisfaction of your Son our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be honor and glory, world without end. Amen.
Read Isaiah 40:1-9, especially these verses: Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord‘s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: …the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Read Philippians 4:4-7, especially these verses: The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
As Advent draws near to its end, our sense of anticipation shifts a little from preparation to invitation. We have spent three weeks meditating on various aspects of Christ’s first arrival in the world in the flesh and his spiritual presence in our midst, such that we are now more ready to receive him in his final return to judge and to rule the world. The Old Testament reading, once again, is a major source of the preaching of St. John the Baptist, but notice this time that its language of judgment has almost entirely shifted to tidings of comfort and joy. Indeed, the healthier our relationship with God, the more we are willing and able to look forward to his judgment as a great day instead of a terrible day. Therefore, in these final days of the Advent season, the preparation for Christ’s final return becomes less penitential and more eager. St. Paul’s exhortations to the Philippians characterize these final days before Christmas: we give thanks, we cast off anxiety and fear, and we continue to pray. The reality of the blessings of God’s peace increases as we grow into those joy-filled habits. Think about how excited people are for the celebration of Christmas; can we be that excited for the return of Christ also?
Close with the Collect for Advent
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.