This sermon was preached by our Reader, Christine, on the third Sunday of Advent.
Be strong, do not fear. There will be a Holy way for the Redeemed (Isaiah 35:4).
Be patient until the coming of the Lord (James 5:7).
See I am sending a messenger ahead of you to prepare your way before you (Matthew 11:10).
Three sentences taken from the three different readings set for today, all of which have a meaning of its own, but all three can be put together to make a paragraph with a deeper meaning about God’s unconditional love for us, his children.
Being strong is something we all face at some time or another in our lives.
I’m sure there are many of us that can relate to a time when we have needed strength to overcome a problem. Even children have to be strong as they change from one school to another, or when they are sitting defining examinations. We know, as disciples of Jesus, we can be strong and overcome fear when we trust God. We know it is Jesus who has prepared the Holy way Isaiah spoke about and it is us who need to have patience, to watch and wait.
Patience: something we all have, some of us have a lot of it and some of us have a little, especially children in the run up to Christmas as the excitement builds up with each decoration that’s put in place.
The people of Jesus’ time must have had a lot of patience; they had been pushed from pillar to post.
A one time, they were a people in control of their own lands and destiny, they were then slaves, beholden to their masters for food and clothing and this continually repeated itself up to and including the time of Jesus’ birth when they were governed by the Romans.
During most of this time, many kept their faith reading the Torah (Old Testament) daily, waiting for their Messiah – the person they expected to rescue them from the oppression they were facing, and when he did arrive, they didn’t recognise him.
However, it’s not only people that have or need patience.
God’s patience is unwavering waiting for us to recognise him in everyday events. Seeing him in others through their actions and words;
- it may be in the driver who goes wide to avoid that big puddle that would drench us;
- the child who picks up the shopping item we drop;
- the neighbour who pops in to make sure we’re ok;
- the encouraging words spoken when we feel lost or lonely;
- or in my case the kind person who reaches up to the top shelf in the supermarket to get the item I’m trying to reach for!
Although we need patience everyday especially if you have children, God has infinitely more waiting for us, his children, his flock to recognise him and his Shepherd.
Before I began my Reader training I went on the Foundations for Ministry course, and without diverting too much, I remember a young man, who has since become an ordained minister, saying how his life felt like a jigsaw and all of a sudden the pieces were beginning to fall into place to make his life whole.
This is something I felt I could relate to. That all my life has been like a massive jigsaw with ups and downs, but knowing all the while that God is all around me waiting and supporting me through everything.
Accepting God into our lives is like a feeling of exultation and I like to think that it’s a feeling we can all experience. After all we are all messengers helping to prepare the way for others and ourselves, leading by example.
John the Baptist became known as the messenger who prepared the way for the one who was to follow and to some he was also thought to have been the last prophet.
Jesus didn’t outwardly say, I am the Messiah, but to us knowing the full story, he made it pretty clear that he was. To John’s disciples he was basically saying open your eyes and ears and look around you. Listen to what people are saying about me. Look at the miracles I am performing in front of you, hear the news that is being ‘talked about’ all around you.
Don’t you still understand that I am the Messiah?
John must have had that feeling of exultation when his messengers returned and told him what they had seen and heard.
So as we prepare our homes during this Advent period for the events of that very first Christmas; let us also prepare our hearts and minds, open our eyes and ears to accept the Holy Child into our lives once again this Christmas and allow him to use us as messengers of the Gospel in the same way he used John.
Let us remember this Advent to:
- Be strong, do not fear.
- To remember: There will be a Holy way for the Redeemed (Isaiah).
- To be patient until the coming of the Lord (James).
- To be prepared and allow ourselves to be messengers preparing the way for others to follow Jesus and to find a patiently waiting God.
Let us pray:
Loving God, infinite and majestic: Beyond time, space and our deepest thought. Give us wisdom to perceive you, intellect to understand you, diligence to seek you, patience to wait for you, eyes to behold you, a heart to meditate upon you and a life to proclaim you, through the power of the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Christine Hardy ©
Resources used: Peregrini Resource book.