Collect and Readings for 2nd Sunday of Advent, Malachi 3:1-4, Benedictus, Philippians1:3-11, Luke 3:1-6 The Prayer for today O Lord, raise up, we pray, your power and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness we are grievously hindered in running the race that is set before us, your bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be honour and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
In our readings for this week, we read one example of many references from the prophets to a messenger who will prepare people for the coming of the anointed one, the long-awaited Messiah or Christ. It is typical of God's provision for his people. All teachers and builders know the necessity for thorough preparation and the way this so often involves chipping back to the solid foundations and making good. Anyone in advertising knows that people may need telling the same thing several times before they are likely to do anything about changing their favourite product.
So God, knowing human nature affectionately and realistically, tell us beforehand what he will do, and then provides John who himself points towards someone else. Hopefully there will be those who, having heard the prophecies, will already be waiting expectantly, ready to latch on to what the messenger is saying. There will be those who, through John's urgent message, will be sorting their lives out so that when Jesus' ministry begins their hearts will already be attuned to receive what he has to say and eventually to recognise who he is.
And what about us? Paul's prayer, similar to that in the letter to the Thessalonians last week, is rather like the image of carrying a very full mug of tea from the kitchen back to bed, carefully holding it so that nothing spills and nothing is lost on the way. We are in the privileged position of having read the prophesies, seen them fulfilled in John the Baptist, and having met Jesus through the Gospels and his living presence. So in a sense we are like the full mug of tea. What we now have to do is make the journey to death and the second coming without losing a drop of what we have been given.
At another level is the recognition that it isn't enough to hear John's message once. It does us all good to use each Advent as a fresh chance to look at our lives and habits, and sort them out; to be ruthless about anything which is impairing our walk with God.
Some things to reflect on:
God bless and stay safe and well.
Rev'd Fiona Robinson