Friday after the Second Sunday in Advent
Scripture: Philippians 3:12-16 (NKJV)
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
St. Paul pictures the Christian life as a race, but not as a sprint. We may sprint eagerly at times toward the Bridegroom as He approaches off in the distance, but He is still just beyond our sight, and the race remains a long one, like a marathon, in which, sometimes, the “runners” are barely jogging, or almost crawling as they inch toward the finish line. The longer we run, the more weary we become as we see the world becoming more perverse all around us, as we feel our own flesh dragging us toward the ground. And yet, with the strength that only Christ’s Gospel can provide, we press on toward the goal, with the assurance that Christ Himself has laid hold of us and will not forsake us until we receive the promised prize.
Martin Luther echoes St. Paul’s words to the Philippians: “This life is not godliness, but growth in godliness; not health, but healing; not being, but becoming; not rest, but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way; the process is not yet finished, but it has begun; this is not the goal, but it is road; at present all does not gleam and glitter, but everything is being purified” (AE 32:24).
Press on, dear Christian, with faith, hope, and love! Christ’s Advent is nearly in sight!
Collect: Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your Only-Begotten Son, so that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.