Advent Devotional - December 21st

"Alleluia.  Alleluia.  Come, O Lord, and tarry not.  Forgive the misdeeds of thy people.  Alleluia."

Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, everywhere you looked you would find cars with Christian-themed bumper stickers.  With such sayings as, “I Found It.”  and my favorite, “In Case Of Rapture This Car Will Be Empty.”  In fact, the latter was displayed on the bumper of my ‘66’ Mustang.  The only thing my friends and I talked about was the return of Christ.  We longed for it.  We desired it? But, were we truly ready for it?

Even now in ‘2022’ we proclaim our belief in Christ’s return.  We even confess it as we confess our faith in the words of the Nicene creed.  “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”  Wait a minute.  What did I just read?  Judge the living and the dead?  That’s what it says.  Our eternal destiny is based not on our own merit, but on the finished work of Christ.  There is, for the believer; evaluative judgment.  In this, our good works will be judged and rewards rendered.

The second part of the Alleluia says, “Forgive the misdeeds of thy people.”  Most of us know 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  Here God is talking about a particular people, His people.  He’s not referring to those who are outside of the circle of those who claim His name.  In terms of the New Covenant in Christ, He is talking about those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus.  

Each Sunday, in the Prayers of the People, we share in a time of Confession of Sin.   Why?  Because even though we are covered by the blood of the Lamb and sealed with the Holy Spirit, we still sin.  We still rebel against God.  1 John 1:8-9  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  What a promise.  To know that we can come before a Holy God and confess our sins, and receive forgiveness.

Now before you breathe a sigh of relief and say, “Whew!  Is that all there is to it?”  Not exactly.  The end game of confession is always one thing, repentance.  And what is repentance?  Repentance is not that feeling you get when you know you’ve been caught.  It is not merely a change of mind, but a change of heart; a change of life.  It is an abandoning of the old sinful nature and saying, “God I want to do things your way. I want to obey your commandments.”

Our Proper begins with twice uttering the word, “Alleluia!”  We can say this because we know God is merciful and slow to anger.  We can say this because when we come to him in true repentance, we know He will forgive us.  And when we confess; when we repent, what does God do with our sins?  The Psalmist in 103:12 tells exactly what God does with our sin.  “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”  What a wonderful thing to know that when we finally do see our Lord face to face.  It will not be as one bound for judgment which leads to condemnation, but to be judged righteous under the atoning blood of Jesus.

As we near the incarnation let us think on these words from Revelation 22:20, “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Dcn. Ron Christolear

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