Posted by Rev. Jon Dunbar

Readings for Advent 2

Luke 3:1-14; Philippians 1:2-11; Malachi 3:1-7b

A central theme of the Christian life – and of the Advent season in particular – is repentance. For life-long Christians, our familiarity with this word can sometimes be a hindrance to taking it as seriously as God does. How do we make sure that repentance is more than just words we say once a week in worship?

This week’s readings can help. John the Baptist was sent by God to “prepare the way of the LORD”. That meant challenging the “cheap repentance” of those who wanted John’s baptism, but not the fruits of changed behavior that come with it (Luke 3). The prophet Malachi describes the coming Messiah as “a refiner’s fire” who will stand in judgment against all unrepentant sinners (Mal 3). A clear word of Gospel comes in the Epistle reading. There, St. Paul says it is God who works repentance and faith in our hearts, and “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion”. Our hope for final deliverance lies not in ourselves, but in God by whom we are “filled with the fruit of righteousness” (Phil 1).