Sermon: Ready for Hope
When we get ready for Christmas, we're getting ready not to remember something that happened long ago, but for Christ coming into our world now, and God's promises outlasting everything.
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Readings for this Week
First Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16
In the Old Testament, “righteousness” often has to do with being faithful in relationship. God acts righteously both in punishing Israel for its sin and in having mercy. In today’s reading, Jerusalem’s future name—“The Lord is our righteousness”—proclaims that the Lord is even now working salvation for Israel.
14The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”
Psalm: Psalm 25:1-10
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. (Ps. 25:1)
1To | you, O Lord,
I lift | up my soul.
2My God, I put my trust in you; let me not be | put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph | over me.
3Let none who look to you be | put to shame;
rather let those be put to shame | who are treacherous.
4Show me your | ways, O Lord,
and teach | me your paths. R
5Lead me in your | truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation; in you have I trusted all | the day long.
6Remember, O Lord, your compas- | sion and love,
for they are from | everlasting. R
7Remember not the sins of my youth and | my transgressions;
remember me according to your steadfast love and for the sake of your good- | ness, O Lord.
8You are gracious and up- | right, O Lord;
therefore you teach sinners | in your way.
9You lead the low- | ly in justice
and teach the low- | ly your way.
10All your paths, O Lord, are steadfast | love and faithfulness
to those who keep your covenant and your | testimonies. R
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Upon Timothy’s report from the congregation at Thessalonica, Paul is exuberant with gratitude for them. In this passage from his letter, Paul voices overflowing thanks, joy, and blessings for the people of this growing church.
9How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 10Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.
11Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
Gospel: Luke 21:25-36
God will fulfill God’s purposes and, already, hidden signs of that fulfillment abound. On that great day there will be dismay, perplexity, confusion, and terror, but God’s people shall be given strength to stand boldly and receive God’s promised redemption.
[Jesus said:] 25“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
34“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”