In the readings this past Sunday and in my sermon, we were all encouraged to prepare the way for Christ. I pointed out that Christ usually doesn’t come in the way we expect, yet we are urged to prepare ourselves for when Christ comes. We do this primarily because we don’t want to be found unprepared when Christ reveals himself. We also don’t want to miss an opportunity to see Christ.

I took a very rough poll of the congregation to see who is engaging in the “tried and true” methods of preparation–praying regularly, reading Scripture regularly, and engaging in acts of service regularly. Our congregation is certainly active, so lots of hands went up with the latter. But only a few went up with the first two questions. This is understandable in our culture where we have little time to give for much of anything. Also, as Episcopalians, we have allowed other denominations to corner the market on praying and reading Scripture, so we tend to back off from those things. I’m certainly not judgmental of our folks. I have refrained from praying and reading Scripture and have done my fair share of beating myself up when I didn’t do it. That’s not the point. The point is engaging God and “tilling the soil” in order to have an opportunity to deepen your faith.

Advent is a new beginning in our church year and in our own lives. In fact, this year, our Lectionary cycle starts completely over again. On Sunday morning, we started with Lectionary Year A once again. In the Daily Office Lectionary, we started this week with Year One again. Now the time to begin again.

It occurs to me that if you do want to begin praying and reading Scripture, you may not know where to start. The Bible is big and sometimes if you’re not used to praying, it can be daunting to jump back in.

Below you’ll find a brief liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer called Daily Devotion, as well as the readings for today. Since it’s the beginning of a new cycle, the readings are at good starting places. Choose one reading to focus on, or if you want, read all three. Pace yourself. Don’t blow through the readings or the prayers. Ponder them. Ask yourself what God might be trying to say to you at this very moment. If you have questions about the meaning of a text, or the context, e-mail me or comment below.

Daily Devotion for November 29, 2010

Start with a few moments of silence to clear your mind.

Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Choose one or more of the following:

Psalm 1, 2, 3

Isaiah 1:1-20

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Luke 20:1-8

A period of silence may follow.

A favorite hymn or song may be played or sung; the Apostles’ Creed may be said.

Prayers may be offered for ourselves and others.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

A Collect for the Renewal of Life

O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the

night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive

far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your

law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having

done your will with cheerfulness during the day, we may,

when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus

Christ our Lord. Amen.