In Advent we are invited to start our journey to Bethlehem.

Love, Grace, St. Philip's, Joy
Love, Grace, St. Philip's, Joy

December 7, 2014 ()

Bible Text: Mark 1:1-8 |

Mark 1: 1- 8   Dec 7th 2014 . Advent 2

Mark 1:1-8
1:1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

1:2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, "See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way;

1:3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'"

1:4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

1:5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

1:6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

1:7 He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.

1:8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

 

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight O

Lord, our strength and our redeemer.

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In Advent we are invited to start our journey to Bethlehem.

It is a preparation time where together Anglicans, in this place have come together in community

for many blessed years. The season of Advent was part of their lives, here, and this continues

from one generation to another for some here, and for others, Advent at St. Philip’s is a new

chapter in their lives. From generation to generation, Anglicans served and continue to serve God

on this land, in the presence of our loving and compassionate God.

 

Advent is our time to prepare our hearts and minds to receive a wonderful gift.  The gift is not

wrapped up in shiny paper and ribbons, even though we love that don’t we. It is the gift of grace.

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, Freely bestowed on all who believe. “Advent” literally means “coming.” Beginning four Sundays before Christmas, the season of Advent moves us toward Bethlehem as we anticipate the coming of Jesus. We remember the prophets who pointed the way. We journey along with Mary and Joseph, shepherds and sheep, angels and wise ones hoping to find the baby who is the sign of God with us.

Our Gospel reading today tells us of John the Baptist who was all about preparation and making the path straight for the One who was to come……. Jesus Christ. One thing I noticed right away is the Gospel of Mark doesn’t feel the need to lay out the biographical pretext of Jesus as many of the other Gospels do, no birth legends, no family tree, but he actually sets the stage with the words of the Prophet Isaiah.  This is a reminder to us that the “actual” beginning, already began way before. With ancestors. With old great expectations. And with words that are spoken, ideas that are expressed by other authors – in this case, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah.

 

We are on a journey….. the journey of Advent. And just like generation before us, the path is not always straight, or without bumps on the road. Unlike us, John the Baptizer is a wild and woolly character. But like us, he lives to point people to the one who is greater than himself. Jesus Christ, the gift to humankind. John the Baptist is telling us in the Gospel of Mark, this is the beginning of the Good News!  The Good News !

In our preparations on our journey in Advent we have to remind ourselves to keep our focus and to celebrate along the whole journey.

How many folks here find Advent stressful with all the preparations for the season?  Hey you are not alone….. Life can be so busy, even when things are "going good".

  • we may have jobs to do, exams to write, papers that have deadlines,
  • homes to keep, children to raise, family members who may need extra caring, and many more things that take our time and attention.

Add on special events or face difficult situations or a challenge or two….YIKES…. it is totally normal to get stressed out. The Christmas season seems to involve expending tremendous amounts of energy, time, and resources for the task of preparation.

  • There are gifts to be bought, wrapped, and placed under the tree,
  • maybe you organize the  gift-exchange scheme for the extended family,
  • baking to be done
  • Christmas cards to be composed and mailed before it is too late – or maybe you compose a Christmas letter and send it out by email using the wonders of technology.

No matter what, you may find yourself snatching early hours from your nighttime slumber to stretch the day to the midnight hour to make room for everything that we think needs to be ready. This makes our lives hurried, all in the name of preparation for the celebration of Christmas.

My friends, when we hold our efforts up to the Scriptures, we become aware how misdirected we are.

We are missing out on Advent. This is where you and I can hold onto this gospel lesson today – focus on what we are preparing for….. Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

When life begins to overwhelm us, rely on the assurance of Christ's ever present love and salvation. As you continue through the hustle and bustle of this Advent season,

 I want to encourage you to take time to prepare for Advent spiritually. 

All of us have different ways to do this:

  • some may read the four gospel accounts of the birth of Christ
  • some may offer to volunteer in the community in a variety of ways
  • how about using family mealtimes to listen to music or sing together. Sing the songs that nurture your life, and don’t worry if you aren’t an accomplished singer. God rejoices in our singing—no matter how off-key! Just go for it!
  • Sing a little, sing with friends, sing a lot – in your car…. Sing really loud… just remember to wave kindly to the person in the car beside you at the red light.
  • Maybe one of your traditions is to do the Advent Calendar thing with a tiny chocolate morsel behind each date…. That takes discipline not to rush the calendar
  • Advent can be a time of inner self-reflection and a good time to clear away any cobwebs. This will take some energy on your part and an intentional effort to find some quiet time. This is important my friends…… worth the effort….. enrich your spiritual life.
  • Advent may be a time to commit to simply starting each day with a simple prayer,  “Come, Lord Jesus, come! Come and open my heart. Fill me with your love!”
  • Just find a way for YOU to prepare the way…..  Remember to let Christ be your hidden source of calm repose.
  • Enjoy the journey my friends. Enjoy Advent.

Our Bishop of Rupert’s Land, Bishop Donald Philips mentioned in the Rupert’s Land News in the latest edition, that Advent is not just a time of waiting, it can be a time of watching – not being passive, but rather engaging in the Advent season. If we become aware of God active in the world and around us and in our own lives, this requires us to ENGAGE. I agree with him.

It is good that you have taken the time to come and celebrate Advent here today. Your presence here is a sign of living out your faith in joyful expectation.

Waiting and Watching for the Lord’s coming can be a gift of time to ready ourselves.

The voice calls out in the wilderness, preparing the way for the one who comes.

Let us Pray:

God of timeless grace, make us ready for the message that prepares the way, and help us to eagerly await the kingdom of your Son, Jesus Christ, who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

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