There’s an ancient little prayer – maybe as old as the fourth or fifth century — that some Christians insert into the Lord’s Prayer right before the doxology (which explains that funny little stumble whenever an ecumenical group recites the Lord’s Prayer together). There are a lot of variations, as you’d expect for such an ancient text, but one version in particular strikes me as a perfect Advent prayer.
Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy, keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety, as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
As we wait in joyful hope! Like the people who heard the prophets, century after century, proclaim God’s promise of a redeemer, we wait in joyful hope. Like Mary, waiting for her baby to be born, we wait in joyful hope. Like Jesus’ first followers, waiting for him to restore the kingdom, we wait in joyful hope.
God’s people were waiting and hoping for a warrior king who would overthrow the oppressors (whoever they might be; the Roman Empire was only one oppressor in a long line of them) and set the people free. The people wanted a king like David, who had brought the divided kingdom together. They wanted a king like Solomon, whose fabulous wealth and wisdom are still world-famous. They wanted a glorious king!
But God’s idea of a glorious king isn’t the same as humanity’s idea of a glorious king. God surprised the waiting world by bringing forth a humble shepherd king, born in a stable, not a royal palace; laid in a manger, not a silken crib; crowned with thorns, not gold and jewels.
That’s how our Savior, Jesus Christ, came to us the first time. Now we wait in joyful hope for the promised second coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We are not to sit idly by, waiting for that second coming. Read Mary’s song, found in Luke 1:46-55, where Mary describes God’s vision for the world. How can we prepare the way for Jesus’ return? How can we help others prepare? How will God surprise us this time?
Audrey Novak Riley is director for stewardship for Women of the ELCA. Photo from Unsplash.
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