Thursday after the Second Sunday in Advent
Scripture: Philippians 2:12-18 (NKJV)
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. 14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. 17 Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.
St. Paul instructs the saints not to take our salvation for granted as we wait for Christ, but to acknowledge with fear and trembling that it is God Who works in us, through the preaching of His Word; we can do nothing without Him. Therefore, God commands us to listen to those who preach repentance and forgiveness of sins in His Name, because “the preaching and hearing of God’s Word are instruments of the Holy Ghost, by, with, and through which He desires to work efficaciously, and to convert men to God, and to work in them both to will and to do.”
There is great comfort in this passage for godly Christians who feel and experience in their hearts a small spark or longing for divine grace and eternal salvation, “for they know that God has kindled in their hearts this beginning of true godliness, and that He will further strengthen and help them in their great weakness to persevere in true faith unto the end.” And as the Holy Spirit works in us through His Word all the way up till the day of Christ, He urges and compels us to lead blameless lives here on Earth, without complaining or arguing, and to hold fast the word of life. This we do not do in vain, for it will bring glory to God in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation, and will also result in eternal glory for us.
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.