“Behold, thy King cometh unto thee,” proclaims the Prophet
in today’s gospel (B.C.P., p.96). This announces Advent’s principal theme:
the coming of the Lord, which stirs in us a sense of expectation. We await
the coming of the Lord, who is our salvation. The epistle sounds this same
note of urgent expectation, that “now it is high time to awake out of sleep:
for now is our salvation nearer” (p.95). Expectation of his coming leads
to preparation for his coming. “Let us therefore cast off the works of
darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (p.96).
Penitence and prayer are the elements of our preparation. The works
of darkness which we must cast off or repent of are the “lusts of the flesh”
(p.96), that is, our wills as turned towards the world rather than to God.
Today’s gospel illustrates this in Christ’s casting out of the money-changers
and merchants from the temple of God (p.97). We repent of our sins so that
we may become the temple of God. The casting off is followed by the putting
on. The armour which we put on is Jesus Christ: “Put ye on the Lord Jesus
Christ” (p.96). His coming means both his great humility in putting on
our humanity and his glorious judgement upon our darkness which he has
overcome. The collect gathers all these themes together. We pray this collect
every day throughout Advent.
The office readings for this week enlarge upon our expectation and our
preparation in the light of the Lord’s coming in humility and in judgement.
The Old Testament lessons are taken from the Book of Isaiah; Isaiah is
our Advent prophet. Through the prophet, God makes man aware of sin, and
of the divine righteousness which overcomes sin. The prophet’s vision extends
beyond Israel to all the nations of the world (chapters 13-23). The expected
salvation will be universal (49.6). That salvation ultimately means the
coming of Emmanuel —God with us — who comes both in humility and in judgment
The second lessons at Mattins for the season of Advent are taken from
St. Mark’s Gospel. Here we begin to see what Christ’s coming to us means.
The preparation ror his coming in John the Baptist, the inauguration of
his public ministry by his baptism, the call of the disciples, the casting
out of demons, the healing of the sick, his teaching throughout all Galilee,
show us the coming of our Lord to establish his kingdom of righteousness
and peace. “The kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel”
With the opening of the seals, we continue our reading of the Book of
Revelation at Evensong. The seals are opened to reveal a vision of the
judgement of God upon all time, all history, and all creation. The Lamb
of God alone can open the seven-sealed Scroll containing the eternal purposes
of God, for he is the Revelation of God and the Redemption of mankind.
The opening of the seventh seal reveals the final consummation of all things
in the judgement of God. “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom
of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev.
11.15). Through the Lamb of God, "the temple of God in heaven was opened”