The Second Week of Advent: Life-Giving Holiness
Malachi 3:1-4 (NIV):
3 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.
Luke 1:68-79 (NIV):
68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a horn[a] of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72 to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
- Luke 1:69 Horn here symbolizes a strong king.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5 Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6 And all people will see God’s salvation.’”[a]
- Luke 3:6 Isaiah 40:3-5
Introducing the FM Way:
God’s call to holiness was never meant to be a burden, but a gift that liberates by delivering us from the destructive power of sin. Life-giving holiness, then, is the fruit of full surrender to the loving reign of God over every aspect of our lives, establishing within us a foundation of love that enables us to embrace the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. This is true freedom. This is true life. This, God makes possible in Jesus.
Introducing the Passages:
Malachi’s prophecy makes it clear that the Lord we are seeking, the one we most deeply desire, IS coming into our broken lives, our broken world. Our desires will not be left unfulfilled as we seek to become more and more like Jesus. And as Luke reminds us, in God’s tender mercy, God’s light shines into our darkness, into the shadow of death that surrounds us, and guides us into paths of peace and wholeness. Therefore, with Paul we thank God and pray with joy that the good work God has begun in us, a work of holiness and wholeness, of transformation and empowerment, is being carried on to completion. God’s love then leads to knowledge and depth of insight as our crooked ways are made straight and we are filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God!
Candle-Lighting Litany: (Light two purple candles while reading)
As we light these candles and look to the coming of Christ, we open our hearts again to the transforming love of God. We receive and rejoice as our deepest desires are fulfilled in the healing wholeness of God’s freedom. We surrender again to this gift of God’s redeeming love as we look to the fullness of God’s kingdom. We trust you, God, praying that you will deepen that trust in the midst of our brokenness. Come, O Come Emmanuel—life-giving God of holiness and life, be with us and in us.
Main text (with the exception of the Bible passages) courtesy of the Free Methodist Liturgical Network.