Readings Adapted from the Book of Common Prayer
AM Psalms: 26 and 28
PM Psalms: 36 and 39
Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 5:13-25
Gospel Reading: Luke 21:5-19
Epistolatory Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
There is no one who deserves the grace of God. There is no one who has lived a life that allows boasting before God. There is no one who can claim to be moral, upright, or good. Even those who outwardly appear blameless are guilty for we all harbor deep doubts, evil thoughts, and personal secrets of the soul. Nevertheless, there are those who are holy and there are those who are wicked.
The good and the bad are not separated by their deeds. Often the line between a saint and a sinner is a very thin one indeed. And while a saint will over time manifest ‘fruit’ that will show the work of God in that person’s life, it is nothing more than a work of God. The Holy Spirit is the One who brings change in the human life.
Where do we see the difference between a saint and sinner early on since it may take time for the Spirit to change the saint into the person God intended for that person to be? We see the saint in her cry for mercy. This is what seperates the saved from the lost. The Apostle Paul told his audience that those who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
It is not those who impress the Lord with good deed that will be saved. It is not the one who convinces himself that he is blameless that will be saved. It is the one who knows he is a sinner that will be saved. It is the one who calls to God for help when no one else can rescue him.
This is what the author of the twenty-eighth Psalm realized when he wrote these words:
To you, O Lord, I call;
my rock, be not deaf to me,
lest, if you be silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.
Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy,
when I cry to you for help,
when I lift up my hands
toward your most holy sanctuary.
Do not drag me off with the wicked,
with the workers of evil,
who speak peace with their neighbors
while evil is in their hearts.
Give to them according to their work
and according to the evil of their deeds;
give to them according to the work of their hands;
render them their due reward.
Because they do not regard the works of the Lord
or the work of his hands,
he will tear them down and build them up no more.
Blessed be the Lord!
For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.
The Lord is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
Be their shepherd and carry them forever.
We should take note that the righteous cry for mercy. The righteous acknowledge the work of the hand of God. The righteous may not be “better” than the wicked, but the righteous realize who God is and that it is God alone who can save. Advent teaches us this very thing for Jesus said, “It was not the righteous I call to repentance, but sinners”. Anyone who hears this understands that the righteous are not righteous at all lest there is a realization that they are first sinners in need of a Savior.