Sunday, December 6, 2020

The Daily Readings for Sunday, December 6, 2020 — Second Sunday of Advent

 

The Daily Readings
Sunday, December 6, 2020 — Second Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8
The Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV)


And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Opening Sentences
The readings this week continue the theme of great change coming to a  people struggling with faithfulness. In these readings, we are told to prepare for the day when God will be among us. God’s continuing challenge is clear, but so is  God’s tenderness and care for a weary people, offering “Comfort, comfort…” Isaiah’s vision of comfort and rest comes as a promise to all who struggle. Isaiah gives voice to the emotional ups and downs of a community under stress—surely this people is only “grass”—yet that same people is called out to the hard, future oriented work of preparing the way for the Holy One. 2 Peter acknowledges the mystery of God’s time—Kairos—where one day may be a thousand years by human reckoning, and the community is called to live attentively in this very moment, listening for the call of God. The beginning of Mark’s Gospel is one such moment: the appearance of an unkempt and unruly prophet, calling people to change their lives in the expectation that God is doing something radically new. One is coming into their midst with the power of the Holy Spirit. No one knows the exact time or day, but we can depend on God’s promises and love.
Opening Prayer
God of winter and starlight, you have promised us your presence: to live among us, to right all wrongs, to bring good things to all who wait for your new day. In these dark days, we look for signs of your coming: the sounds of children at play, the music that fills our hearts with anticipation, the company of all who serve the last and the least. Make us at home with righteousness, that we may be ready to walk in your holy ways. Amen.
Prayer of Confession
December is upon us, Lord, and we are on the "greased slide to Christmas". Time seems to get away from us and we get trapped in the buy-wrap-send syndrome. Lord, we confess that it is easy to get involved in all these opportunities and stresses that come our way. Forgive us when we put our faith on a back burner and focus instead on pressures in our lives. Help us to take time to see your beam of direction which shines in our path, leading us to peace and hope. Clear our spirits of the frustrations and anxieties of this season, so that the Light which you are sending into the world will truly shine in and through us to others. These things we pray in the name of Jesus, our Hope and our Light. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon
God’s forgiving love has been poured upon each one of us. Hear the good news! You are healed and forgiven! Amen.
First Reading
Isaiah 40:1-11

God’s coming to the exiles
40:1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.

2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins.

3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:

5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

6 The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:

7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.

8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

10 Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
Commentary

All human life is a warfare; the Christian life is the most so; but the struggle will not last always. Troubles are removed in love, when sin is pardoned. In the great atonement of the death of Christ, the mercy of God is exercised to the glory of his justice. In Christ, and his sufferings, true penitents receive of the Lord's hand double for all their sins; for the satisfaction Christ made by his death was of infinite value. The prophet had some reference to the return of the Jews from Babylon. But this is a small event, compared with that pointed out by the Holy Ghost in the New Testament, when John the Baptist proclaimed the approach of Christ. When eastern princes marched through desert countries, ways were prepared for them, and hinderances removed. And may the Lord prepare our hearts by the teaching of his word and the convictions of his Spirit, that high and proud thoughts may be brought down, good desires planted, crooked and rugged tempers made straight and softened, and every hinderance removed, that we may be ready for his will on earth, and prepared for his heavenly kingdom. What are all that belongs to fallen man, or all that he does, but as the grass and the flower thereof! And what will all the titles and possessions of a dying sinner avail, when they leave him under condemnation! The word of the Lord can do that for us, which all flesh cannot. The glad tidings of the coming of Christ were to be sent forth to the ends of the earth. Satan is the strong man armed; but our Lord Jesus is stronger; and he shall proceed, and do all that he purposes. Christ is the good Shepherd; he shows tender care for young converts, weak believers, and those of a sorrowful spirit. By his word he requires no more service, and by his providence he inflicts no more trouble, than he will strengthen them for. May we know our Shepherd's voice, and follow him, proving ourselves his sheep.


Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
Righteousness and peace
1 Lord, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob.

2 Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah.

8 I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.

9 Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land.

10 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

11 Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

12 Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase.

13 Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.
Commentary

Sooner or later, God will speak peace to his people. If he do not command outward peace, yet he will suggest inward peace; speaking to their hearts by his Spirit. Peace is spoken only to those who turn from sin. All sin is folly, especially backsliding; it is the greatest folly to return to sin. Surely God's salvation is nigh, whatever our difficulties and distresses are. Also, his honour is secured, that glory may dwell in our land. And the truth of the promises is shown by the Divine mercy in sending the Redeemer. The Divine justice is now satisfied by the great atonement. Christ, the way, truth, and life, sprang out of the earth when he took our nature upon him, and Divine justice looked upon him well pleased and satisfied. For his sake all good things, especially his Holy Spirit, are given to those who ask him. Through Christ, the pardoned sinner becomes fruitful in good works, and by looking to and trusting in the Saviour's righteousness, finds his feet set in the way of his steps. Righteousness is a sure guide, both in meeting God, and in following him.


Second Reading
2 Peter 3:8-15a

Waiting for the day of God
3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

15a And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.
Commentary

From the doctrine of Christ's second coming, we are exhorted to purity and godliness. This is the effect of real knowledge. Very exact and universal holiness is enjoined, not resting in any low measure or degree. True Christians look for new heavens and a new earth; freed from the vanity to which things present are subject, and the sin they are polluted with. Those only who are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, shall be admitted to dwell in this holy place. He is faithful, who has promised. Those, whose sins are pardoned, and their peace made with God, are the only safe and happy people; therefore follow after peace, and that with all men; follow after holiness as well as peace. Never expect to be found at that day of God in peace, if you are lazy and idle in this your day, in which we must finish the work given us to do. Only the diligent Christian will be the happy Christian in the day of the Lord. Our Lord will suddenly come to us, or shortly call us to him; and shall he find us idle? Learn to make a right use of the patience of our Lord, who as yet delays his coming. Proud, carnal, and corrupt men, seek to wrest some things into a seeming agreement with their wicked doctrines. But this is no reason why St. Paul's epistles, or any other part of the Scriptures, should be laid aside; for men, left to themselves, pervert every gift of God. Then let us seek to have our minds prepared for receiving things hard to be understood, by putting in practice things which are more easy to be understood. But there must be self-denial and suspicion of ourselves, and submission to the authority of Christ Jesus, before we can heartily receive all the truths of the gospel, therefore we are in great danger of rejecting the truth. And whatever opinions and thoughts of men are not according to the law of God, and warranted by it, the believer disclaims and abhors. Those who are led away by error, fall from their own stedfastness. And that we may avoid being led away, we must seek to grow in all grace, in faith, and virtue, and knowledge. Labour to know Christ more clearly, and more fully; to know him so as to be more like him, and to love him better. This is the knowledge of Christ, which the apostle Paul reached after, and desired to attain; and those who taste this effect of the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, will, upon receiving such grace from him, give thanks and praise him, and join in ascribing glory to him now, in the full assurance of doing the same hereafter, for ever.


The Gospel
Mark 1:1-8

John appears from the wilderness

1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;

2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

6 And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;

7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.

8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
Commentary

Isaiah and Malachi each spake concerning the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the ministry of John. From these prophets we may observe, that Christ, in his gospel, comes among us, bringing with him a treasure of grace, and a sceptre of government. Such is the corruption of the world, that there is great opposition to his progress. When God sent his Son into the world, he took care, and when he sends him into the heart, he takes care, to prepare his way before him. John thinks himself unworthy of the meanest office about Christ. The most eminent saints have always been the most humble. They feel their need of Christ's atoning blood and sanctifying Spirit, more than others. The great promise Christ makes in his gospel to those who have repented, and have had their sins forgiven them, is, they shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost; shall be purified by his graces, and refreshed by his comforts. We use the ordinances, word, and sacraments without profit and comfort, for the most part, because we have not of that Divine light within us; and we have it not because we ask it not; for we have his word that cannot fail, that our heavenly Father will give this light, his Holy Spirit, to those that ask it.


Here end the Readings

The Apostles’ Creed

  • I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
  • I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
  • I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Holy Communion

A nondenominational serving of bread and wine
Many churches around the world are working hard to adapt to online worship, and one challenge is how our members can celebrate communion from home. Though no video can truly replace the experience of celebrating together in our places of worship, we know that where two or more are gathered, the Lord is present.
Sending
God is bringing light to our darkness. We are called to go into the world, confident in God’s loving presence, to serve others in need. Go, bringing hope and peace to this darkened world. Go in God’s love. Amen.


The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel lessons are from The Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV).

Commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible.

The Daily Bible Readings are selected from the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, a three-year cyclical lectionary. We are currently in Year B. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent in 2021, we will be in Year C. The year which ended at Advent 2020 was Year A. These readings complement the Sunday and festival readings: Thursday through Saturday readings help prepare the reader for the Sunday ahead; Monday through Wednesday readings help the reader reflect and digest what they heard in worship. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org
Second Sunday of Advent
The readings this week continue the theme of great change coming to a  people struggling with faithfulness. In these readings, we are told to prepare for the day when God will be among us. God’s continuing challenge is clear, but so is  God’s tenderness and care for a weary people, offering “Comfort, comfort…” Isaiah’s vision of comfort and rest comes as a promise to all who struggle. Isaiah gives voice to the emotional ups and downs of a community under stress—surely this people is only “grass”—yet that same people is called out to the hard, future oriented work of preparing the way for the Holy One. 2 Peter acknowledges the mystery of God’s time—Kairos—where one day may be a thousand years by human reckoning, and the community is called to live attentively in this very moment, listening for the call of God. The beginning of Mark’s Gospel is one such moment: the appearance of an unkempt and unruly prophet, calling people to change their lives in the expectation that God is doing something radically new. One is coming into their midst with the power of the Holy Spirit. No one knows the exact time or day, but we can depend on God’s promises and love.
Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8
The Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV)

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