Welcome to the Christian season of Advent! Advent always begins on a Sunday, and those of you who went through the daily September series on establishing a pattern to prayer will remember that Sundays were different from the rest of the week. Rather than the morning/noon/evening pattern of the other days of the week, we instead are encouraged to treat Sunday as a true Sabbath, attending worship, where we have many opportunities to pray, and disconnecting from the patterns of the week as much as possible. Ideally, the patterns established over six days of the week lead you to a Sabbath of constant spiritual communion with God.
Here’s the text I plan to preach this first Sunday of Advent. During this series, I will be using the Common English Bible translation, which should be accessible for most people. No translation is perfect for every person and circumstance, but some of my respected seminary professors were involved in the CEB’s development, and I trust it.
1 Peter 1:13-21
Therefore, once you have your minds ready for action and you are thinking clearly, place your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. Don’t be conformed to your former desires, those that shaped you when you were ignorant. But, as obedient children, you must be holy in every aspect of your lives, just as the one who called you is holy. It is written, You will be holy, because I am holy. Since you call upon a Father who judges all people according to their actions without favoritism, you should conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your dwelling in a strange land. Live in this way, knowing that you were not liberated by perishable things like silver or gold from the empty lifestyle you inherited from your ancestors. Instead, you were liberated by the precious blood of Christ, like that of a flawless, spotless lamb. Christ was chosen before the creation of the world, but was only revealed at the end of time. This was done for you, who through Christ are faithful to the God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory. So now, your faith and hope should rest in God.
Here are some questions I would suggest as you dwell on these words:
Spiritually, is my mind ready for action and my thinking clear? What might I do to achieve this state?
Do I feel I live in a strange land, or does it seem familiar and even comfortable? What does your answer tell you about your relationship with Christ?
During this season of Advent, how would it feel to deepen my faith and increase my hope?
Have a blessed Sabbath day, one leading you into a holy and joy-filled week.