Stir up, we beseech Thee, Thy power, O Lord, and come; that by Thy protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins, and saved by Thy mighty deliverance; Who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
-- Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church
Happy new year! Advent marks the beginning of the Christian church year--just different enough from our regular calendars to make us quirky and out of step with the rest of society, as good Christians are wont to be.
The readings for the new church year begin, perhaps paradoxically, with St. Matthew's account of Jesus entering into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Mt 21.1-9). Let's not get tripped up on the chronology! The key is not the timing of this account but the attitude with which Christ came, both during his birth and then into Jerusalem--in meekness and humility--first as a baby, then as a king on a colt. Each time we celebrate Holy Communion, we echo the cries of the crowd from this passage, "Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!"
Coincident with the Epistle reading (Rom 13.11-14), Advent and the celebration of Christ's first coming and eventual return reminds us that "now is our salvation nearer than when we believed." As a result, "let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of light."
With both of these passages in mind, the church prays for deliverance from our sinfulness by the mighty power of Christ as we wait to celebrate his comings (both past and future).
Photo by David Tomaseti on Unsplash