Tuesday after Advent 4

Psalmody: Psalm 115:1–8, 11

1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us,
but to your name give | glory,*
         for the sake of your steadfast love
         and your | faithfulness!

2 Why should the | nations say,*
         “Where | is their God?”

3 Our God is in the | heavens;*
         he does all that he | pleases.

4 Their idols are sil- | ver and gold,*
         the work of | human hands.

5 They have mouths, but | do not speak;*
         eyes, but | do not see.

6 They have ears, but | do not hear;*
         noses, but | do not smell.

7 They have hands, but do not feel; feet,
but | do not walk;*
         and they do not make a sound | in
         their throat.

8 Those who make them be- | come
like them;*
         so do all who | trust in them.

11 You who fear the LORD,
trust | in the LORD!*
         He is their help | and their shield.

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 43:1–24

Israel’s Only Savior
1But now thus says the LORD,

he who created you, O Jacob,
         he who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
         I have called you by name, you are mine.

2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
         and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
         and the flame shall not consume you.

3For I am the LORD your God,
         the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

I give Egypt as your ransom,
         Cush and Seba in exchange for you.

4Because you are precious in my eyes,
         and honored, and I love you,

I give men in return for you,
         peoples in exchange for your life.

5Fear not, for I am with you;
         I will bring your offspring from the east,
         and from the west I will gather you.

6I will say to the north, Give up,
         and to the south, Do not withhold;

bring my sons from afar
         and my daughters from the end of the earth,

7everyone who is called by my name,
         whom I created for my glory,
         whom I formed and made.”

8Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes,
         who are deaf, yet have ears!

9All the nations gather together,
         and the peoples assemble.

Who among them can declare this,
         and show us the former things?

Let them bring their witnesses to prove them right,
         and let them hear and say, It is true.

10“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD,
         “and my servant whom I have chosen,

that you may know and believe me
         and understand that I am he.

Before me no god was formed,
         nor shall there be any after me.

11I, I am the LORD,
         and besides me there is no savior.

12I declared and saved and proclaimed,
         when there was no strange god among you;
         and you are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and I am God.

13Also henceforth I am he;
         there is none who can deliver from my hand;
         I work, and who can turn it back?”

14Thus says the LORD,
         your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

“For your sake I send to Babylon
         and bring them all down as fugitives,
         even the Chaldeans, in the ships in which they rejoice.

15I am the LORD, your Holy One,
         the Creator of Israel, your King.”

16Thus says the LORD,
         who makes a way in the sea,
         a path in the mighty waters,

17who brings forth chariot and horse,
         army and warrior;

they lie down, they cannot rise,
         they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:

18“Remember not the former things,
         nor consider the things of old.

19Behold, I am doing a new thing;
         now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness
         and rivers in the desert.

20The wild beasts will honor me,
         the jackals and the ostriches,

for I give water in the wilderness,
         rivers in the desert,

to give drink to my chosen people,
         21the people whom I formed for myself

that they might declare my praise.

22“Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob;
         but you have been weary of me, O Israel!

23You have not brought me your sheep for burnt offerings,
         or honored me with your sacrifices.

I have not burdened you with offerings,
         or wearied you with frankincense.

24You have not bought me sweet cane with money,
         or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices.

But you have burdened me with your sins;
         you have wearied me with your iniquities.”

New Testament Reading: Revelation 9:13–10:11

[The Seven Trumpets]
13Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, 14saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. 16The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number. 17And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. 18By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. 19For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound.

20The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, 21nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

The Angel and the Little Scroll
10:1Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. 2He had a little scroll open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, 3and called out with a loud voice, like a lion roaring. When he called out, the seven thunders sounded. 4And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.” 5And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven 6and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay, 7but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.

8Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, “Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” 9So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, “Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” 10And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter. 11And I was told, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”

Writing

Heavenly love is also noticeably strengthened by the eternal vision of the divine essence. “We will see Him,” John says, “as He is” [1 John 3:2]. Similarly, Christ prays, “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, [to see My glory]” [John 17:24]. He also says of the angels, “Their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven” [Matthew 18:10]. And David says, “When shall I come, that I may see the face of God?” [Psalm 42:2]; “I shall behold Your face in righteousness” [Psalm 17:15], “for with You is the fountain of life; in Your light do we see the light” [Psalm 36:9].

Now since God is love itself and reveals His essence in heaven visibly, so that angels and men behold His face, what do they behold and see in God with their pure eyes besides pure love? And what is the majestic brightness of the divine essence other than pure flames of love and brightness of love, which with great joy shines out and gives light to all the citizens of heaven? What
         could give joy and life to the children of God more than the dear vision of this most beloved essence?

If there is a beautiful human face on earth that can draw the eyes of many people to itself like a magnet attracts iron, and if the vision of trusted friends—parents and children, husband, wife, groom and bride—is so lovely and pleasant that it gives joy to the heart, though human beings are not love itself but only have loving tendencies toward their friends: how many hundred thousand times dearer and lovelier must the beautiful essence of God be, who is love itself, and the bright, uncovered face of our heavenly Father and of His only-begotten Son, our most-beautiful and most-friendly bridegroom Jesus Christ, as well as of the Holy Spirit in eternal life!

    —Philipp Nicolai

Prayer of the Day

Almighty and ever-living God, You have given exceedingly great and precious promises to those who trust in You. Grant us so firmly to believe in Your Son Jesus that our faith may never be found wanting; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Great “O” Antiphon

O King of the nations, the ruler they long for, the cornerstone uniting all | people:*
         Come and save us all, whom
         You formed | out of clay.

By Rev. Michael Mayer

Lutheran Pastor of two small Lutheran Churches in rural SW Ontario.