By Jane Williams
A Reading from 2 Peter 3:1-10
1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you; in them I am trying to arouse your sincere intention by reminding you 2that you should remember the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and savior spoken through your apostles. 3First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts 4and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!” 5They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, 6through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. 7But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless.
8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. 9The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.
Advent is both hopeful and somber. That may sound like a contradiction, but the coming of Jesus into the world is only a source of joy if we can honestly say this is what we want. Just as at his birth in Bethlehem so in his second coming, Jesus is the presence of the living God, the Lord of all that is and will be. God is not at our command and cannot be made into our wish fulfillment. Instead, in Advent, we prepare ourselves to receive God afresh by admitting our failure and need.
The temptation is to press on with our ordinary lives and ignore the inexorable coming of God. 2 Peter reminds us that this has always been the human response to the reality of God who will not conform to our ideas. 2 Peter confronts its readers — and us — with God, who made all things without our help and who will fulfill all things with similar power. Unlike our “scoffing” words, God’s word is truth and power. It spoke creation into being, it speaks in Jesus, and through those who witness to Jesus. It is a word of promise, and that promise is about the steadfast, unchanging nature of God.
At the first Christmas, those who recognized the Son of God in the vulnerable baby were few and far between, because this is not the God we want. This Advent, we have time, in God’s kindness, to see again that there is no other God, no other world but God’s, no other hope but God. We learn again to worship at the manger and go on, rejoicing.
Dr. Jane Williams is McDonald Professor in Christian Theology at St. Mellitus College. She is also an editor, a sought-after public speaker, and is involved in promoting theological education in the Anglican Communion. She is the author of a number of books, including The Art of Advent (SPCK, 2018).
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Lusitanian Church, the Rt. Rev. Jorge Pina Cabral
Diocese of Southern Ohio, the Rt. Rev. Tom Briedenthal