During this season of Advent, I will be praying with a number of friends and colleagues using the Morning Prayer found in Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (available online and in hardcopy).
Today’s Gospel Reading in Common Prayer is the reading just prior to yesterday’s Gospel reading in the Revised Common Lectionary.
9 “Watch out for yourselves. People will hand you over to the councils. You will be beaten in the synagogues. You will stand before governors and kings because of me so that you can testify before them.10 First, the good news must be proclaimed to all the nations.11 When they haul you in and hand you over, don’t worry ahead of time about what to answer or say. Instead, say whatever is given to you at that moment, for you aren’t doing the speaking but the Holy Spirit is.12 Brothers and sisters will hand each other over to death. A father will turn in his children. Children will rise up against their parents and have them executed.
13 Everyone will hate you because of my name. But whoever stands firm until the end will be saved.
14 “When you see the disgusting and destructive thing standing where it shouldn’t be (the reader should understand this), then those in Judea must escape to the mountains.15 Those on the roof shouldn’t come down or enter their houses to grab anything.16 Those in the field shouldn’t come back to grab their clothes.17 How terrible it will be at that time for women who are pregnant and for women who are nursing their children.18 Pray that it doesn’t happen in winter.19 In those days there will be great suffering such as the world has never before seen and will never again see.
20 If the Lord hadn’t shortened that time, no one would be rescued. But for the sake of the chosen ones, the ones whom God chose, he has cut short the time.
21 “Then if someone says to you, ‘Look, here’s the Christ,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it.22 False christs and false prophets will appear, and they will offer signs and wonders in order to deceive, if possible, those whom God has chosen.
23 But you, watch out! I’ve told you everything ahead of time.
CEB (Common English Bible)
Advent is a period of waiting and watching for the Coming One. No need to get sentimental here, today’s reading is intense, and serious.. We are not just waiting for another bathrobe presentation of the Christmas story, the Gospel points us to life as we know it coming to an end. If you thought that waiting for Jesus’ return was going to be easy, better think again.
On this second morning of the Advent season, we are called to be wide awake and watchful. Are we ready?