The Second Sunday in Advent
Primipilus I - MMV
First Advent Home
ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy 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 quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.
This Collect is to be repeated every day, after the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas Day.
for Morning Prayer: Psalm l, Malachi iii. 1-6 & iv:4-6, and Luke i. 5-25
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me:
Zarachrias & Elisabeth, parents of John Baptist
Malachi iii. 1-6 & iv. 4-6BEHOLD, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts. For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
Luke i. 5-25THERE was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
The grace and peace of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
The lessons appointed for the First Sunday in Advent include our lessons today from Malachi and Luke, and they tell the story of John Baptist, the Great Forerunner. The one whom Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." [Matt 11:11].
John forms a bridge between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, he is the last of the old prophets, and the first of the new prophets. He preceded our Lord's nativity and ministry. He was his second cousin, the son of Elisabeth, the cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was chosen before even being conceived to be the forerunner of whom Malachi, the last of the Old Testament prophets, foretold. He did not act on his own, but was sent by God. Malachi prophesies, Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me. Who sent John? God did, as part of his promise to redeem and save the world. And for what purpose? To prepare the way of the Lord and his coming, his Advent into the world of men, the ushering in of a new Covenant between man and God, a covenant to supersede the old, and which God had promised to the patriarchs and prophets though the ages - that is, the coming of the promised Messiah.
Like so many of the prophesies, there is a blessing and a curse here. God promises also to judge against evil, to purify his church: listen to the words of Malachi here, "I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.". John warned them of the coming judgment that would refine and purify the people of God, and implored them, to repent of their sins, and to walk rightly before the Lord their God. He used baptism as a sign and symbol of the repentance, the turning away from sin, the washing of the outward body with water, and the inward body from sin.
John the Baptist, whom Malachi prophesies as the symbolic Elijah, and who our Lord also called Elijah, came before the Lord Jesus to prepare the people. Listen again to the prophecy of the angel to John's father, Zacharias, "and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
And Jesus did come, and he affirmed John's ministry of repentance, vigilance, and righteousness. For Jesus himself humbled himself that he should also be baptized of John, and commanded that all who would follow him should be baptized as well of water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.
Yes, John the Forerunner, brought to the church the sacrament of Baptism that our Lord Jesus affirmed, sanctified with his own baptism and the coming of the Holy Ghost, and ordained it in eternity as a rite of passage in his Church, for he said in Matthew, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
The New Testament and Early Church obeyed our Lord. Baptism was made the rite of entry into the fullness of the Church. Baptism was required before a member could partake of the Lord's Supper, and it followed a period of instruction and confession that Jesus was Lord. Some churches today have ignored that ordinance, and now have what they term "open communion". They have tossed aside the example and teaching of John Baptist and Jesus Christ in favor of some newly invented theology of "open communion, inclusiveness, and universal salvation". A new practice that invites the wicked, the pagan, the atheist, to join in partaking of the body and blood of the Lord. They do it to their condemnation, and the condemnation of those who knowingly participate. I would strongly advise all that hear this message to keep watch and as Paul said, separate themselves from every apostate person and practice. One custom of the Church that has all but been forsaken in this new practice is that of the Admonition before Communion. In my American traditional Anglican Communion, it is required to be said in the first Sunday of Advent*. It coveys the spirit of John Baptist and of Paul that we should prepare ourselves to receive the Lord:
DEARLY beloved in the Lord, ye who mind to come to the holy Communion of the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ, must consider how Saint Paul exhorteth all persons diligently to try and examine themselves, before they presume to eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup. For as the benefit is great, if with a true penitent heart and lively faith we receive that holy Sacrament; so is the danger great, if we receive the same unworthily. Judge therefore yourselves, brethren, that ye be not judged of the Lord; repent you truly for your sins past; have a lively and stedfast faith in Christ our Saviour; amend your lives, and be in perfect charity with all men; so shall ye be meet partakers of those holy mysteries. And above all things ye must give most humble and hearty thanks to God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for the redemption of the world by the death and passion of our Saviour Christ, both God and man; who did humble himself, even to the death upon the Cross, for us, miserable sinners, who lay in darkness and the shadow of death; that he might make us the children of God, and exalt us to everlasting life. And to the end that we should always remember the exceeding great love of our Master, and only Saviour, Jesus Christ, thus dying for us, and the innumerable benefits which by his precious blood-shedding he hath obtained for us; he hath instituted and ordained holy mysteries, as pledges of his love, and for a continual remembrance of his death, to our great and endless comfort. To him therefore, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, let us give, as we are most bounden, continual thanks; submitting ourselves wholly to his holy will and pleasure, and studying to serve him in true holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. Amen. and AMEN
* 1928 PECUSA Book of Common Prayer. The 1552 CoE BCP and the American 1789 BCP required the priest to say this Admonition immediately before Holy Communion any day it was offered. 020914
The Reverend Mark Carroll, MMV
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