Daily Office Lections: Haggai 2:1-9; Revelation 3:1-6 (7-22)*; Matthew 24:1-14
Merciful God, who sent thy messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
We have spent this week in the book of Revelation reading the seven letters of our Lord to the seven churches, which are letters to the whole Church. As I read through the letters it struck me that Jesus is not playing around. It is a serious thing to follow (or stop following) the Lord Jesus Christ.
And because God loves us (for why else would He send His Son?) and is willing that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9), he calls us to repentance, out of death and into life. He sends us warnings through the prophets, and in these last days through His Son, so that we might turn off the broad path which leads to destruction and enter the narrow way which leads to life. Judgment in the negative sense (punishment) is preached so that we might avoid, and in the positive sense (the world made right) so that we might share in it.
And in the Collect (see above), we've petitioned God for the grace to heed such warnings and to enter into repentance. We need God's help to follow him. Moreover, God takes the first step (the first several steps) towards redeeming us and the world. He is the one who stands at the door and knocks (Revelation 3:20).
At the end of each of the letters to the seven churches, Jesus says, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." We need to ask God to give us ears to hear, to give us the grace to see Him as He is and ourselves as we are. We may be tempted to resist the epistles of Jesus because they do not allow for oft-purported vision of a nice, domesticated savior with whom we are comfortable. But let us not resist the Spirit, but rather cooperate with grace by opening the doors of hearts afresh on this Christmas to receive Jesus as He is.
*In the All Souls Advent Guide, the epistle reading is extended to include the whole of Revelation chapter 3. This allowed us to read each of our Lord's seven letters to the churches in succession.