We haven’t been left alone in this fallen world. In his grace and mercy, God has sent us true messengers to communicate his love and righteousness to us, his mortal children. Their job is to lead and guide us, walk beside us, as we encounter the brute reality of the natural world.
On Second Advent we contemplate those who prepare the way of the Lord as his messengers. John the Baptist is the model. His was a consecrated life, preaching nothing but faith in the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, and repentance for our sins, so that through Christ’s grace we might experience his righteousness, both externally as our tutor in this mortal test and internally as we learn to align our thoughts and actions with that moral compass within that corresponds, through the light of Christ, with God’s righteousness.
John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ’s mortal ministry in his first coming. And Paul was one of God’s messengers after this first coming. He fervently believed he was preparing the saints for the Lord’s imminent Second Coming. A decade after he, Silas, Timothy, and possibly Luke established a church in Philippi, Paul wrote an epistle to the Philippians expressing his care and longing for them and their spiritual and temporal welfare. He prayed they would be prepared to meet the Lord when he returned. Though he did not foresee that saints would still be waiting almost 2,000 years later, Paul as Christ’s messenger seems to have constantly contemplated the spiritual preparation of his fellow believers.
The Second Coming is still perpetually imminent for us as Christians in the twenty-first century. In all likelihood, it still will be hundreds or even thousands of years from now. Although Paul was wrong about that, his urgency is still instructive for us now. We must live as if the Second Coming were tomorrow by dedicating our lives to the principles Jesus established in his first coming — and by accepting the Atonement in our lives as the foundation of this preparation. John the Baptist has again prepared the way for us to do this, restoring the baptizing priesthood in our age, signaling that the saints, like other Christians, must preach nothing but faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repentance for sin leading to baptism for the remission of sins to prepare ourselves for when the Lord comes again.
Let us have faith that the Lord’s messengers today care as much about us as did Paul in delivering the Gospel message. Let us pray daily that as the Lord’s messengers they will diligently seek direct revelation on the matters relevant to their stewardship specific to our time and circumstances. Let each of us as Latter-day Saints receive in our hearts a desire to hear the Lord’s will through them, a desire that moves us to weary the Lord day and night to give them direct revelation on these matters. And let us pray that as true messengers they will identify for us when they are conveying guidance that they have received through direct revelation.
Above all, let us pray that they will preach nothing but faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repentance for sin, and let us heed this teaching so that we will be ready to receive him at his Second Coming.
George Frederic Handel, “But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming” from The Messiah, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus
Second Sunday of Advent
The Collect: Heavenly Father, we thank thee for sending us prophets as messengers to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation; we ask for thy grace that we may heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.