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Summary: Life never goes as planned: for example, have you ever invested years of your life in another person only to watch something go wrong: as something happens, and your investments all go wrong as they make one stupid mistake after another.

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Title: Life just never seams to go as planned.

Word Count: 2993

This sermon was delivered to both congregations in St John in Girvan, and St Oswald’s in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 15th December 2013: (both are Scottish Episcopal Churches in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).

Isaiah 35:1-10 James 5:7-10 Matthew 11:2-11 Psalm 146:4-9

“Please join me in my prayer.” Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength, and our redeemer. Amen. (Ps. 19:14)

Introduction:

Life just never seems to go as planned: for example, have you ever invested years of your life in another person only to watch something go wrong: your time, your energy, and your money, all in hope; and then, something happens, something changes, and your investments all go wrong … as you watch them make one stupid mistake after another; and looking at them where they are today, you say: “this is not what I planned, … this is not what I wanted for them, … how can I make them understand”?

In interviews, I used to hate the question “where do you see yourself in 5 years time”. Eh! Because all Christians know, life is not up to us, and I like most of us here today, are not in a place that we would plan for ourselves as life has many turns: things change, people change, and we change.

Let’s look now at a young man who should have had a long prosperous life; a man who even before he was born, had an angel tell his father that, “he is going to be a great preacher and will lead many to the Lord”.

I am sure that people would have looked at him and said, “one day that boy is going to be somebody; I remember his birth”; but … even though his father was a priest, something happened and he did not follow in his footsteps.

His mother and father were now both dead, as they were very old when he was born, and now, for some reason, he was living alone in the desert, probably feeling sorry for himself, wearing a rough camel haired coat, and eating locusts and wild honey.

People had long forgotten his so called miraculous birth and his alleged mission from God; and now in his twenties, he must have been praying, (as we have probably done), “Lord, this is not what I had planned, it is certainly is not what our parents had in mind. How can this be your will for me”?

But John stayed with the Lord regardless, even when the people around him said, “Look at him now, the Lord’s chosen one” as they laughed behind his back!

But then one day, John’s prayers were answered, and “he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins”, … “a voice crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”.

John preach a storm; people came from all over to hear … and his message was simple … “get your act together, get yourselves sorted and repent, because God is about to bring forth judgment.”

John was not afraid to tell the religious leaders, that they too must change, he called them “snakes in the grass trying to get away from the fire”; … and John shamed all, he shamed the crowds, he shamed the tax collectors and the soldiers; telling them all to stop what they were doing and change, … because the day of the Lord was at hand; stop lying and stealing, and start loving each other the way that God had intended.

It was all good fire and brimstone preaching, with Hell is just around the corner … and if they did not change, then Hell is where they were going.

Yet, the people kept coming … they responded through shame and guilt … and they would fall on their knees in repentance before God. They would even received baptism from by John and his disciples … the crowds getting bigger all the time; in fact John baptized so many, that they called him John the Baptist.

Nothing like this had happened before, and so some started saying that John might be the Messiah; but John firmly said “No”, because “there was one coming after him who is more powerful. … And that he … even he, was not worthy to untie his shoes. This man that was coming was different; because he would baptize them with the “Holy Spirit … and with fire.”

One day John the Baptist saw Jesus, and he said, “There He is, the lamb of God, the one I am telling you about, the one who would come after me, Christ the Messiah”, ... and they all watched … as the Holy Spirit descended upon him, as a dove from heaven.

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