Preface of Advent

The Collect

Gracious God, we thank you for the witness of Harriett Beecher Stowe, whose fiction inspired thousands with compassion for the shame and sufferings of enslaved peoples, and who enriched her writings with the cadences of The Book of Common Prayer. Help us, like her, to strive for your justice, that our eyes may see the glory of your Son, Jesus Christ, when he comes to reign with you and the Holy Spirit in reconciliation and peace, one God, now and always. Amen.

Old Testament

Isaiah 26:7–13

The way of the righteous is level;
O Just One, you make smooth the path of the righteous.

In the path of your judgements,
O Lord, we wait for you;

your name and your renown
are the soul’s desire.

My soul yearns for you in the night,
my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.

For when your judgements are in the earth,
the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.

If favour is shown to the wicked,
they do not learn righteousness;

in the land of uprightness they deal perversely
and do not see the majesty of the Lord.

O Lord, your hand is lifted up,
but they do not see it.

Let them see your zeal for your people, and be ashamed.
Let the fire for your adversaries consume them.

O Lord, you will ordain peace for us,
for indeed, all that we have done, you have done for us.

O Lord our God,
other lords besides you have ruled over us,
but we acknowledge your name alone.

The Response

Psalm 94:16–23

Deus ultionum

16 Who rose up for me against the wicked? *
who took my part against the evildoers?

17 If the Lord had not come to my help, *
I should soon have dwelt in the land of silence.

18 As often as I said, "My foot has slipped," *
your love, O Lord, upheld me.

19 When many cares fill my mind, *
your consolations cheer my soul.

20 Can a corrupt tribunal have any part with you, *
one which frames evil into law?

21 They conspire against the life of the just *
and condemn the innocent to death.

22 But the Lord has become my stronghold, *
and my God the rock of my trust.

23 He will turn their wickedness back upon them
and destroy them in their own malice; *
the Lord our God will destroy them.

The Epistle

1 Peter 3:8–12

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing. For

Those who desire life
and desire to see good days,

let them keep their tongues from evil
and their lips from speaking deceit;

let them turn away from evil and do good;
let them seek peace and pursue it.

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.

But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

The Gospel

Matthew 23:1–12

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

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