2nd Sunday of Advent – Sermon 292

17th February 2019 Off By Derek

2nd Sunday of Advent
6.30pm Evening Prayer BCP
9th December 2018

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



Many Christians at this time of year turn to St Luke’s Gospel for the Christmas story –

Luke alone tells us the story of Mary and the Angel’s visit to her and gives us the wonderful Magnificat –  

Luke alone tells us the story of Simeon’s hymn of praise giving us the Nunc Dimitis –

 Luke alone tells us the story of the Angels appearing to the shepherds and how they visited the infant Jesus –

and of course Luke alone tells us of the birth of John the Baptist – and how his parent Elizabeth and Zechariah were blessed with him –

how all were filled with awe’ – at what had happened and what they heard – and wondered “what then is this child going to be? – For the Lord’s hand was with him”

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         Birth of John the Baptist

Luke begins His gospel with some sensational news –

For over 400 years – prophecy had been silent – but now it was time for the prophetic voice – to burst out again –

A new voice would come on the scene – one that would pave the way for an even greater voice to come –

God was about to break through Israel’s darkness with a powerful light – and He was to use the most unlikeliest people – to do it – an elderly, childless couple – and a teenage girl – engaged to a peasant carpenter –

God was sending a new David – and with Him a prophet – who would go ahead and prepare the way – ‘the way of Holiness’ –

Zechariah and Elisabeth weren’t expecting any of this – they were simple devout people – going about their regular business – keeping the law – as a sign of devotion to God –

Like all priests – except the chief priest – Zechariah would only come into the city when it was his turn to perform the regular Temple liturgy – and it was on one such occasion – he was told by Angel Gabriel – that all this would happen – and it would be his son John – who will be that prophet –

Zechariah’s doubts – not least because of Elizabeth’s age – and his need for a sign – resulted in him being struck dumb –

And he was only – released from – it when he finally accepted what had been foretold – and agreed to naming his son John –

This break with tradition – in front of all his family – was confirmation that – this child – would not follow in his fathers’ footsteps – but follow the path – chosen for him by God –

John’s Spiritual growth and development was to take place – in the desert – and – it’s from the desert that God’s pathway will emerge – and be established –

For Zechariah – the release from the nine months silence – became a new sign – and in Luke’s verses He openly praises God – and reconfirms the prophecy given to him – of what his child will become –

God worked through Elizabeth and Zechariah  to fulfill His purposes – and along the way – a family’s prayers and dreams were fulfilled –

There may have be a bigger picture – but the needs and hopes and fears of ordinary people were not forgotten – in the Larger story –

which shows that God takes care of our smaller concerns – as well as those of nations and the world –

Point 3         The message of John the Baptist

When the people of Israel – came out of slavery in 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 –

God was to provide that Exodus through His Son Jesus Christ. 

In a pure act of Love – God sent His only Son – Jesus – to live amongst us – to experience our difficulties and our pains – and to show us how we can overcome them –

Jesus also came to suffer and die for us on the cross – so that we can be washed clean and – through repentance brought back to God –  

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 –

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

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 –

Conclusions           For us this Advent

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 and Son of God –

Today – he calls every follower of Jesus to do as he did – to prepare and proclaim the way for Jesus – so that others can know of His saving presence – and can meet Jesus for themselves – 

Elisabeth and Zechariah’s story – too reminds us that this Advent – we also have a story to tell –

the story of how the arrival of baby – Jesus – has made a tremendous difference to our lives –

how Jesus has changed our world beyond all our expectations –

We are all children of God – and each one of us – a joy and celebration in God’s eyes –

We are all special to Him – and no doubt – like John – have a special purpose to fulfill –

and maybe somebody we know – will have been deeply impressed – and say of us -‘‘What will this child become for indeed the hand of God is upon them’

Closing prayer

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