2nd Sunday in Advent – Sermon 184

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ



What kind of Alarm Clock wakes you up in the Morning?

Is it one designed jar us out of bed with the sound of loud clanging bells – one that we can’t say no to

or is it more like a clock radio – with gentle soft music gradually getting louder – and louder – persuading us that – as much as we would like to press that snooze button – and have a couple of more minutes in bed – its time to get up – and start the day –

How we wake up – to our Spiritual needs is important too –

What ever direction our Christian journey takes us – we need to make sure we are wide awake to whatever God puts before of us –

For some the gentle approach – will awaken them to the fact that they are not on the right path – and they will quickly realise it – and change direction –

For others – a loud clanging and rude awakening is needed – before they will take any notice –

For the people of the first century AD – there was a need for a rude awakening – and it was John the Baptist who was sent to be their alarm clock –

Point 1       Malachi – last voice in the OT

Our reading from Malachi – the last voice in the OT – foretells of John’s coming –

God will send a messenger – says Malachi – who will clear a straight path before Him – One who will make it possible – for God to return to His Temple –

He will be like a refiners fire – a fuller’s soap – purifying – those before him – he will be charged with the task of making the people clean – for God’s presence –

Judgment will begin with the priests – who will be made fit for their high function –

The people of Israel – who had become lukewarm – to His ways – will have their hearts changed –

God’s plan was to bring His people back to Him – so that once more they will be ‘pleasing to the Lord – as they had been in former days’-

but – Malachi’s voice was to reverberate through another 400 years – of biblical silence –

complacency was the problem in Malachi’s time – and it was still there – when John – the first voice of the NT – made his entrance – and began for real God’s work of salvation –

Point 2         John the Baptist

Imagine massive floods – sweeping the countryside – villages finding themselves in several feet of water – people not expecting it – and can’t quite believing it has happened –

The authorities- if they have had enough warning – doing their best – to get people out of the houses – to stop them being trapped-

The drive around announcing that trouble is approaching – and people should leave at once – announcements are made on the radio – television – websites – there is imminent danger and urgent action required-

Perhaps – after the events at Cockermouth – we don’t have to look very far for images of such happenings –

But all this shouting and warning – was exactly what John the Baptist was doing –

he was warning of danger – of a different kind – one that requires urgent action – by every individual – and rather than water destroying – it would be used as a sign – for a new beginning –

When the people of Israel – came out of Egypt – they were brought through the Red Sea – which separated before them – and then through the Sinai wilderness – which took a whole generation to cross – before finally crossing the Jordan River – and reaching the promised land –

But – now they were slaves again – this time to sin – and they needed a new Exodus – to bring them to freedom –

Baptism with water in the river Jordan – would be the sign of their new exodus – and of their repentance for the forgiveness of sins –

repentance means turning away from evil and turning towards God – for our future –

To many Jews – John the Baptist was – as great a prophet as Moses and Elijah – but John knew that his true mission – was to exalt and point to Jesus – as the true word of God –

In a pure act of Love – God sent His only Son – Jesus Christ – to live amongst us – to experience our difficulties and pains and to show us how to overcome them – to suffer and die on the cross – so that we can be washed clean and – brought back to Him

John was sent to prepare the way – for Jesus – not in the sense of a warm-up act on the stage – but to make sure that the people realised that their landscape had to change –

The louder and the rougher John preached – the greater the attraction for his presence –

For the people – it was just what was needed –

John took no honour for himself – but his preaching brought generations to the feet of Jesus – and his style and approach brought many out of their deep sleep of complacency –

Today – he calls every follower of Jesus to do as he did – to prepare and proclaim the way for Christ – so that others can know of His saving presence – and can meet Him for themselves –
Point 3           Paul’s prayer to the Philippians-

But perhaps the rude awakening – of John – is not everyones – motivation for change

Maybe this morning- we feel we are only light sleepers – and the soft gentle music of Paul’s prayer to the Philippians – is all we need – to stir us into action – and keep us on the straight and narrow –

In our passage from Paul’s letter – we have one of the most beautiful of prayers that anyone can receive or pray –

Philippi – in Northern Greece – was the first place in Europe to hear about the good news of the risen Christ – and it was the people of Philippi – who gave Paul the most joy –

Paul reminds us that Jesus brings freedom – and that together – through our support and prayer – we can encourage one another – to take His love into our lives – and to begin again –

God’s knowledge is open to everyone who is prepared to give themselves in love to Him –

We are all partners in the Gospel – we must all play our part in bringing Jesus to others –

God is a ‘finisher’ as well as a ‘beginner’

and those who begin to live by Him and make progress in faith and love – will advance and because of His grace – are assured of the full harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ –

Conclusions        for us this Advent

Advent – the beginning of the Church year – like the beginning of the calendar year – calls on us all – to make a new start –

To make a new commitment to God – to repent – and to change our hearts

During Advent we have a responsibility – like John the Baptist – and as our calendar sketch reminds us – to point to the one who has been sent by God – to save the world – Jesus Christ

through our actions – through our words – through ourselves – and through our prayers –

its something that we can all take part in –
and in which we all have an important part to play

Pointing is often considered rude – but during advent pointing to Jesus is exactly what we should be doing –

So today – lets not hit that snooze button –

lets wake up – and say yes to Jesus – and play our part in telling – about the coming of the greatest one of all

Closing prayer

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.-