The Letter to the Romans was written by Paul, who had been a zealous persecutor of Christians until he quite literally “saw the light” and became a Christian himself (see Acts 9:1-6).
Paul is making an urgent appeal to the Christians at Rome. He believes that Christ’s return is imminent—much closer than they may think. Paul seems to be assuming that the Christians in Rome have fallen into a false sense of security. After all, they have received Christ and the gift of salvation, so now all they have to do is wait for Christ to come and take them to their ultimate reward—eternal life! Paul knows that much more is demanded of followers of Christ.
So perhaps this is Paul’s question as he writes to the Romans—and to us: “What must we give up and what must we take on in order to live fully in the light of Christ?”
First, we must wake up! We must shake off sleepiness, lethargy, fear, and anything else that tempts us to wander from our focus on Christ. We who are followers of Jesus have work to do!
Second, we must get dressed, and we are to dress ourselves in Jesus Christ. How do we do that? We step into the love, the compassion, the truthfulness, and the assurance of Christ. We wrap those qualities around ourselves before we put on our outer garments for the day. Our attitude is one of gratitude, and our commitment is to serve the risen Christ this day wherever we are, with what we have to offer, and with everyone we meet.
God, today is a gift from you! I am thankful for the gift and the Giver! I ask for one more gift. In your mercy, guide me through today so that I may focus on your children and share with them the gifts you want me to offer them. With gratitude for your love and presence, I live this day for you! Amen.
Advent is a season for turning our minds to the coming arrival of the Christ child. Isaiah looks forward to a future day when peace will reign in Jerusalem. All nations will come to hear the wisdom of the Lord. The psalmist rejoices in going up to Jerusalem in his own day. Jerusalem is a center of peace and a place for righteous judgment among the nations. Both readings inform Jewish expectations of a bright future with the arrival of the Messiah. Paul tells the Romans that part of receiving the reality of the Messiah is self-preparation. We should put aside immoral living and put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew looks forward to the future return of the Son of God, which will happen at an unexpected time.
Read Isaiah 2:1-5. How do you look to the Bible’s stories, prayer, and the Holy Spirit to help you work toward God’s reign?
Read Psalm 122. What does it mean for you to pray for peace?
Read Romans 13:11-14. How do you stay awake to salvation’s nearness?
Read Matthew 24:36-44. Who in your life lives as though they expect the Son of Man? What does it look like to be ready to meet Christ?
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