By Brooke Holt
“Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” Proper 24, The Collect, Book of Common Prayer (p. 235)
Currently, I am teaching “Unwavering Faith, A Study on the Book of James" in a women’s Bible study. James, the half-brother of Jesus (son of Mary and Joseph) encourages his readers to fully embrace their faith in Jesus Christ so that their actions, attitudes, and words reflect the teachings and life of Jesus. James understood the challenges his original audience faced and seems to anticipate the challenges we face today. For James, the key was whole-hearted devotion to Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and this devotion, Christians could rise above the pettiness of this world and manifest the love, forgiveness, and mercy of Jesus Christ.
James’ message is the prayer of our Collect today. As a church, we come together to declare that God has revealed his glory to us. In the readings for today, Moses pleads with the Lord to show him his glory. Graciously, the Lord responds with instructions for Moses to stand on a rock. There, the Lord would protect Moses with his hand and allow his glory to pass by him. Moses would see the Lord’s backside but could not see the fullness of the Lord’s glory.
The psalmist declares the Lord is King (Psalm 99:1). He is to be revered, honored, obeyed, and worshipped for he is a God of might, justice, and equity (see Psalm 99:4). The Lord has clearly made known his decrees to Moses and then to his people. Following those decrees is the way to steadfast faith and blessings.
In the Gospel reading from Matthew, Jesus astounds the Pharisees and Herodians with his ability to answer their question about paying taxes to the emperor. While they sought to trap Jesus, Jesus understood their intentions and spoke the truth of God without offense to the Lord or the emperor. Only one with divine wisdom could answer with such perfection.
With these readings and this Collect, we acknowledge God’s glory and then seek his mercy to empower us to persevere through this world. Opposition surrounds us, yet God’s revelation and Spirit sustain us to maintain our faith and our confession of that faith. We do so by setting our eyes on Jesus Christ who sits on the throne with God the Father and God the Spirit and choosing to live wholeheartedly before him.
One day, we will join the triune God in his glory. We will fully behold his glory and not be consumed. This is the hope of every Christian and the end to which we persevere in a world that has grown increasingly hostile to our faith. It is the very sustenance of our steadfast faith.
Do you need a fresh revelation of God’s glory to empower you today? Seek him, request to behold him as Moses did. Be encouraged and strengthened to persevere in the steadfast faith of the Lord. You will find him faithful for today and every day until glory. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Christmas is the festival of rejoicing at Christ’s first coming—the beautiful, unlikely start of our salvation! As the season ends each year, we pack up the decorations. Advent, on the other hand, is a bigger celebration—one we can’t box up and store in the attic. It celebrates the grace of Christ’s first coming, and then it reaches with restless anticipation for the fuller grace of his second appearing and the completion of our salvation! For 28 days, celebrate Advent. In Prepare the Way, join with St. Paul, King David the Psalmist, Zechariah, Gabriel, Mary, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist, along with the crowds as they rejoiced in the good news of Christmas, and then look beyond it for the holiday that never ends!
To see all of our Advent Devotionals/Studies, click here.
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