During this Second Week of Advent, we are reminded of the ministry of God's prophets, both ancient and modern. Since the earliest days of God's covenant with Israel, God has raised up men and women who have served as the mouthpiece of the Lord. These prophetic witnesses have been the source of inspiration and hope for God's people in the midst of famine, national disunity, and exile. The prophets have also been the voice of exhortation and admonition, calling God's people to account for their actions (or inaction as the case may be).
In the collect for the Second Sunday of Advent we recognize the importance of this prophetic ministry and pray for "grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins." What does it mean to heed the prophets' warnings? Throughout the history of God's people, the temptation to idolatry has been ever present. In the garden of Eden, the serpent taunted Eve with the promise of divinity; it was the idol of human pride that ultimately led to the "fall" of the human race. The prophets have consistently proclaimed a message of repentance and grace. The strong language of judgment and wrath found in the prophetic writings serves primarily to highlight the gravity of our sin and our need for repentance. To heed the warnings of the prophets is to acknowledge that apart from God we are nothing, to recognize our need for redemption and healing. To heed the warnings of the prophets is to see clearly the consequences of our sin, to have the eyes of our hearts opened to the reality of the human condition and God's promise of salvation.
Time and again, God's people have not heeded the warnings of the prophets; they have relied on human wisdom and, consequently, followed to much the devices and desires of their own hearts. As we prepare to hear once more the message of the Angels in Bethlehem, let us first hear once more the message of the Prophets, both ancient and modern, who call us to repentance and ammendment of life. Let us hear once more the call to seek the Lord, for in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confience shall be our strength.
Where is God calling you to a deeper place of repentance? Have you grown distant in your relationship with Christ? How will you draw near to his presence this Advent?