Summary: ADVENT 2, YEAR C - Jesus’ Birth
Have you heard the story about the church that caught on fire No one really knows how it got started but as the pastor stood watching his beloved sacturary go up in flames he spotted one member of his congregation who had not attended in a long time. Approaching the man the pastor said “Why Bob! We haven’t seen you in church for a while?” Turning to the minister the absentee parishioner said, “Well, to be honest pastor. This is the first time I’ve seen the church on fire.”
What does it take to catch an indivdual, a group of christians, or even a church on fire for Jesus? Do your remember learning how to start fires as a kid? If you hurried the process the wood would never light. It was only when you took the time to prepare the kindling over the top of plenty of paper and then after igniting the paper to patiently blow on the sparks. Then, and only then would a steady fire catch. Preparation was everything, painters know this, surgeons know this, even NASA knows this.
“The word of God came to John in the wilderness; and he went into all the region about the Jordon, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Have you ever had someone visit your house when you weren’t ready to receive them? The house was a mess and you were ashamed to show them the conditions in which you were living In Revelations 3:20 Jesus declares, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock if anyone will open the door, I will come into him and sup with him and he with me” Jesus is knocking at the doors of our lives. Right here, Right now. Waiting to be let in that He might fellowship with us. Waiting to set our lives on fire. If in that moment we are unprepared to receive Him, like Adam in the garden we will be embarrassed by the exposure and be unwilling to let him in.
So John the baptist is warning us. He’s giving us a heads up that the Christ is coming at any moment now. John is therefore giving us time to prepare our lives, to cleanup our acts, to put our spiritual house in order before the day of Christ’s arrival comes. Every year during this time of Advent we are given this warning to prepare. The same scripture. The same message. If anyone should understand the need for preparation, it should be Christians. As Christians we are “to prepare the way of the Lord.” We are to “make His paths straight.” This we know. We get the point. But how does one do that?
You have probably heard sermon after sermon, minister after minister, chiding you to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Don’t you think that maybe it’s time one of us told you how to do that? Earlier on, I talked about starting a fire. Can anyone here tell me what three elements must come together for a fire to exist? Fuel - Why We Make Kindling. Heat - Why We Keep the Fire in one spot. Oxygen - Why We Blow on it. remove any one of these three elements and combustion can not take place. And so, Beloved of God. For there to burn a spiritual fire within our souls. For the divine fire of the Holy Spirit to fall upon us gathered here, as it did upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost. There must be three elements in place if heavenly conbustions is to ignite us. A fuel source that can burn, a form of heat to excite that burning, and a wind to blow upon the beginning flame that it may become a raging fire. All provided to us by God above, that we might be prepared for the coming of His son
“For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,:there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in.” Jeremiah 20:8-9
We begin with our fuel source. We begin with the Word of God. In Joshua 1:8-9 we are commanded, “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.”