Summary: Sermon for The Second Sunday of Advent where we consider John the Baptists message to be prepared.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Last week as we entered into the season of Advent, we began to think about the busyness of the season, and how we have to not only prepare our homes for the coming season of Christmas, but even more important, we should be preparing our souls, not only for the coming of the Christ child, but also for His glorious return.
So, it may at first glance seem strange that we have gone backwards to the beginning of Marks Gospel where we find John the Baptist preaching about a receiving Baptism as a sign of repentance, because this happened well after the birth of Christ, just before his public ministry began.
However, the more we look at the Gospel and the prophecy of Isaiah that we have just heard, we realise that something important is going in in these two passages.
Isaiah a prophet born centuries before Christs birth had been blessed with the gift of prophecy, insight from God, and we are blessed by the fact that it was all written down so that it could be shared.
Isaiah is the one who sets about describing the coming Messiah, and the many ways in which he will be identified in great detail. But here in this part of the scripture, we see him speaking about John the Baptist, the herald who would go before Christ to prepare His people.
I have always found John the Baptist to be a fascinating person, he lived a simple life, clothed himself with what he found, and nourished himself with simple food, but most of all he didn’t mince his words.
Receive the baptism of repentance from me now, prepare yourself for the one who will come and Baptise you with the Holy Spirit, He is the one who I am not even worthy to untie the thongs of his sandals.
He may have been forthright in his ministry, but he was driven to prepare the way, because He knew who he was, a humble servant of God, and he knew the one who was coming after, and he knew the blessings he would bring.
Johns life was all about preparation, his preparation for the day he would meet the messiah, the time he spent going through the land proclaiming the coming messiah, and the need for everyone to be prepared to greet him when he arrived.
Many listened to what he had to say, and they prepared themselves as they went to him in their droves to receive Baptism by water, and as a result were ready to greet Christ as he went through the land in the three years of his public ministry.
Its also important to remember that even Christ prepared for service, by going to receiving baptism, even though John initially refused because he deemed himself unworthy, and this is the way, the example that we have as all Christians begin their journey by going through the waters of Baptism.
The act of Baptism was the first step back then, just as it is for countless people today. It was a sign of preparation for a life committed to following Christ, and whilst the way may have changed, the reason, the rationale for this act hasn’t.
But what does this have to do with our current journey through Advent, and our arrival at Christmas which is now only 18 days away?
It’s all to do with how we now prepare the way of the Lord, for ourselves, what does that look like here in 2020?
Its undeniable that our preparations this year are different to what would normally be happening right now, whether that is because you’re working from home, been furloughed, been made unemployed or lost your business, been told to isolate because you or one of your family may have been infected, or indeed are currently suffering with Covid.
As part of that the church as a whole is seeing a greater number of people looking towards us for prayer, for guidance, and for comfort in these days of uncertainty.
Perhaps part of this is because for many it is instinct to turn to God in times of great trial, for others they are looking for assurance and stability when things are changing so rapidly, one day we can do this, then the next its all different.
People apprehensive about whether they are going to get that text or message saying please isolate, and for those countless people who have not been able to see loved ones in person for such a long time.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, and I am sure that you would have other doubts and fears that you could add to this list.
We are slowly starting to see glimmers of hope on the horizon with a number of vaccines showing positive signs of development and hopefully in the not too distant future them being rolled out throughout the world.