And this is my prayer: that…you may be…filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Christmas is filled with traditions. One that I remember from my childhood is the family Christmas picture. The boys had their hair combed, my sister was wearing her favorite dress, and (most years) everyone had a smile. My parents hoped to capture a moment when everyone was looking their best.
But it didn’t always work out this way. Sometimes there was an untucked shirt, stains on a sweater, or a shock of hair sticking out the side of someone’s head. We did not always appear as perfect as we would have liked.
The same is true for us spiritually. When our Lord returns on the Last Day, his hope is that we will be perfectly clean of any sin and perfectly obedient to his Word. But so many things stain our spiritual appearance: apathy towards God’s commands, sloppiness in obedience, a lack of love toward others, and the list goes on. These are not superficial details. These blemishes threaten to cut us out of God’s family picture.
Thank God that he sets our hearts at peace this Advent season. We were made pure and blameless when we were baptized—washed in the forgiveness Jesus won for us. We are assured of that purity and forgiveness whenever we receive the Lord’s Supper. In God’s Word and sacraments, we are connected to Jesus and everything he has done to cleanse us from our sin.
Even more, God still sends his Spirit to work in our hearts and turn us away from behaviors that would damage our faith. He preserves us in holiness, turns us from sinful habits, and gives us new desires pleasing to God.
No longer do we appear before God stained and wrinkled with sin, but rather “pure and blameless.”
Lord God, thank you for cleansing, washing, and preserving me in holiness for the day of your return. Amen.