Summary: A sermon that considers how Advent is a time of preparation for the Christian.

There is a tarsealed road at East Gore that leads to the river.

Along this road are a series of deliberately built bumps like judder bars.

They have been put there to restrain the young people who like to race along that road. The concern is to slow them down and to prepare them for entering East Gore.

They are deliberately installed there so that someone doesn’t get hurt or even worse, die.

In the bible God is often preparing his people and shaking them out of complacancy. The bible is pepperred with God’s judder bars.

There are certain scriptures that are there that prepare people for what God is about to do so that nobody should be hurt or die unnecessarily.

The season that we are in in the church at the moment is known as advent.

Advent is a time of preparation. It can act as an important judder bar for us.

Matthew 3:1-12 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2 and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: "A voice of one calling in the desert, ’Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’" 4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ’We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

This passage is often used for folk to prepare themselves for Christmas.

Of course Jesus and John were about the same age. But John’s role was a forerunner or the one who prepares the way for Jesus. As such he becomes a vital figure to help us to genuinely prepare for the Christmas season.

Actually, if you consider the three aspects of our lives - body, mind and spirit we would have to confess that much of our preparation for Christmas is of this world. Body and mind and often not a lot of spirit.

We think about a procession of functions and occasions - breakups and presentations - gift buying and home decoration - church services and farm chores. Getting the crops organised and the shearing - weaning or whatever done. On top of this there is planning for holidays - getting off christmas cards and so many other things. And if that weren’t enought there is christmas dinner parked right at dead centre of the whole Christmas whirlwind.

Don’t you think it is time we got serious about christmas as a vital season for our faith?. What if we flagged some of this "stuff" that is expected of us and just whittled things down until Christ, not an obese man in a red suit, became the centrepiece of Christmas?

Sermon Central:- On the whole, the world deals with increasing darkness by plugging in more artificial lights." The church, on the other hand, moves into a period of darkness; a time of waiting guided only by dim advent candles. "Our willingness to wait in the dark is our puzzling witness to a culture that is dedicated to supplying its own light." (Barbara Brown Taylor)

But there is not much point in waiting until Christmas day for that.

Let’s this morning consider some good reason we have for getting ready for Christmas as heard from the Prophet John the Baptist.

The first reason is the closeness of the Kingdom of heaven. Matthew 3:1-12 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2 and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

When he said that people flocked to hear the message from all over the place. Why did they do that?

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