God’s Faithful Intervention in Our Lives Connects Us to an Eternal Life With Him
These are the readings for the First Sunday in Advent.
God’s Word for This Week
Advent reminds us: Jesus is coming soon. The world will end soon. If we seriously look at our sins, we have plenty of cause for fear and worry. But our lessons focus on the faithfulness of God, who calls himself our Father and himself takes care of all the details. Instead of feeling down about the end drawing near, by God’s grace, we see the richness we have in Christ and the gifts we have to serve him in these last days.
First Lesson – Isaiah 63:16b-17, 64:1-8
What comfort is there in knowing God as “Father”?
He talks about the tenderness and compassion of God. He is the one who knows us. The saints in glory do not know or influence the affairs of people on earth. Only God, our Father, is our Redeemer to rescue us; the potter who fashions our lives according to his good pleasure. Remember that when you address God as “Our Father” in the Lord’s Prayer.
Why does he want God to do awesome things?
He knows that the world does not recognize the true God who is behind the scenes. Often God reveals himself in unexpected, miraculous happenings that draw even enemies to acknowledge his name and see that he comes to help those who depend on him.
What makes God’s grace and love even more spectacular when we look at our own lives?
Even the things we think are so good are disgusting and revolting in the sight of God because they still carry the stain of sin. The penitential heart sees that. Our troubled lives evidence it. Yet the God of grace forgives our sins for the sake of Christ. Those who understand this live in the true joy of the Lord.
Supplemental First Lesson – Genesis 6:1-3, 5-14, 17-22
In Noah’s era, what did believing men, the “sons of God,” foolishly do?
The sons of God married unbelieving women.
Nephilim (perhaps meaning “falling ones”) became heroes in those days. Often sexually immoral and violent people are heroes today. Why is that a problem?
It is a problem when sexually immoral and violent people are heroes because a) they fall away from God and his Word, b) they are eager to fall on other, weaker people, and c) by example, they teach impressionable young people to do the same, as if “might makes right.”
Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Upon what is Paul’s thankfulness focused as he writes to the people in Corinth?
Paul focuses his thanks not toward the Corinthians but toward God for the undeserved love he brought them. He knew what they really were like in their selfish, prideful ways. Yet God was glad to call them “saints” and “holy” because of Jesus and equip them with a richness of spiritual gifts and an eager anticipation of the Lord’s return. When you are feeling insignificant or unworthy, think back to God’s faithfulness towards you.
Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 Peter 3:18-22
When and why did Jesus descend into hell?
Jesus descended into hell after he came back alive, Peter says, so we gather he did so early Easter Sunday morning. Jesus went, body and soul, to the only place in the universe where spirits are in prison―hell. He went there to preach to them. We gather he preached to the spirits in hell his victory over death: If he had won, they had lost forever. How Jesus went to hell, we do not know, but since he proved that he had taken all the devil’s might from him, we know that neither hell nor the devil can take us captive or injure us.
What does baptism do for us, just as the flood did for Noah?
The water of the flood drowned everyone else in the world, but it floated the ark, so it saved Noah and his family. In the same way, God’s Word and the water of Baptism save us. They wash away all our sins, so they give us a clean conscience before God. They plug us into the power of Jesus’ resurrection. They comfort us when we suffer for our faith in Jesus.
Gospel – Mark 13:32-37
Who can predict the day when “heaven and earth will pass away”?
God has the specific time set for judgment day. No one can discover the Last Day with his or her logical calculations. Jesus will come at a time we not only do not know but will not expect.
Since we know the end of the world will come out of the blue, unexpectedly, what should our lives be like?
Instead of being caught up in the busyness of our world, we should be watchful and on our guard against falling away. We should be busy with the tasks God has assigned us so we can impact the world with the gospel in whatever time God allows.