For the opening prayer: The prostration prayers of Orthodox Vespers.
The Advent Collect describes the second coming of Jesus – the last day as coming in ‘Glorious Majesty.’ Let us today ask for grace to adore Christ who is glorious and majestic. To help us in this spiritual exercise I have selected passages from Scripture which will if ‘we read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them’ help us be drawn into the presence of Christ our God and King. If we contemplate Christ as the King of Glory (the Advent Collect teaches us) we will always seek to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armour of light. Advent is a time for anticipating the return of him as St Paul tells the Thessalonians:‘For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.’We must remember that this Glory and Majesty is the final outcome of his Great Humility. In Philippians 2 we heard that because of his humble obedience to the point of death God has ‘highly exalted him and given him the name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow both under the earth on the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.’There is a spine tingling description of John’s encounter with Christ on Patmos in the first chapter of the book of revelation:‘Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.’Jesus is LIFE – the source of all life – and this is the source of his Glorious Majesty. It is his Great Humility that pours out his glorious majestic LIFE into our mortal life. We will soon remember how this glorious majesty is humbled to be wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. As that life draws to its close – in the Upper Room Jesus makes this prayer ( John17)‘The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.’The Glorious Majesty of Christ to dynamic and is full of movement – nothing is beyond His power.Colossians Chapter 1He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.Christ is the eternal destiny, He is the end that has no end the source of light which was the first work of creationIn Revelation 20 we read:
And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.
We can do no better than make the Te Deum a personal prayer. Particularly the second half which has very much an Advent ‘feel’ about it – everyday of the year!
THOU art the King of Glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, thou didst humble thyself to be born of a Virgin.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants, whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints, in glory everlasting.
O LORD, save thy people, and bless thine heritage.
Govern them and lift them up for ever.
Day by day we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name ever, world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy be upon us, as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded.