3rd Sunday of Advent – Sermon 121

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



How many of us have watched in amazement as we see – children opening their presents – at Christmas – take a quick look at what’s inside – and then start to play with the paper or the box –

Do we ever stop to wonder then – what God must think of us – when we – spend so much time playing with our Christmas wrappings – our parties – our drinking – our present buying – only to ignore the real gift behind it all – Jesus Christ –

This week we light the third candle of our Advent wreath – and we focus especially on the message of John the Baptist – who reminds us – to look again – at what it means for us and for others to receive Jesus Christ – into our lives this Christmas


Point 1 Jesus will transform us

John came to prepare the way for Jesus’ coming –

“He was not himself the light: he came to bear witness to the light”

“I am not the Messiah” said John, “among you – though you do not know Him – stands the One”

John answered his critics by using words from the prophet Isaiah –

“I am a voice crying in the wilderness – Make straight the way of the Lord”

Jesus too used Isaiah’s words – the first two verses from this mornings reading – when He sets out – His ministry –

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me – because He has anointed me – He has sent me to announce good news to the poor – To proclaim the release of prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind; to let the broken victims go free; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour”

When Jesus sat down – He added the words – “Today – in your hearing – this text has come true” –

Jesus came to raise up what had been beaten down – to release what had been held captive – to repair what had been ruined – deliver what had been devastated – what man has failed to do – Jesus came to renew

We’ve all seen people queuing up at shops after Christmas to exchange unwanted presents? Wrong colour – wrong size – wrong style? Well the rest of Isaiah’s reading – is a bit like a description of God’s exchange counter –

But instead of exchanging something of equal value – if we are prepared to live for Jesus – He – will exchange the unwanted parts of our lives for something better –

Bring me your sadness says God – – and I’ll give you joy
Bring me your problems – I’ll give you solutions
Bring me the things you don’t understand – and I’ll give you answers
Bring me your broken health – I’ll give you my Grace
Bring me your pointless lives – I’ll give you real meaning
Bring me the ashes of your life – I’ll give you something beautiful in return

Jesus will replace our hurt with healing – He is the hope that has come to live among us – to help us see God at work – and to bring us back to Him –

In the seasons of Advent and Christmas we look forward to and celebrate the gift of Jesus in a manger – but its not the manger that gives us a restored relationship with God – it’s the cross and the empty tomb –

In an act of pure love – God sent His only Son – to show us that He understands and cares about our individual needs and difficulties – He sent Jesus – to die for us on the cross – so that our sins can be forgiven – and we can be washed clean – and brought back to Him –

Jesus came to make a lasting covenant with us – to offer us a new life – to clothe us in a way that there is no mistaking whose we belong to –

He came to relight the fire within us – make us glow – and blossom in this dark world – and so draw others to Him –

Point 2       Spread the Light to others

Its easy to become distracted at this time of year – so many hats to wear – the decorating hat – the shopping hat – the socialising hat – the family hat – and the catering hat – the working hat – must finish that job – off despite the holidays? – It can be over whelming!

But there is one hat we all need to wear – the witnessing hat –

It’s a time when our church – our village – fills up with people – who need to see Jesus in a new light

So like John the Baptist – we too need to focus ourselves – on pointing people to Jesus

There are plenty of adverts around telling us what to buy – which charities to give to – which holidays to take next year – but there are no adverts about Jesus –

The only adverts Jesus has – are the ones sitting in the pews and chairs of His churches – you and me

So – what should we do – to be a witness? –

First – we have to live an open Christian lifestyle – in front of the people around us – do what our NT reading talks about – be joyful – a person of prayer – someone who is honest – sincere – loving – generous – helpful – and to live this way openly in front of them –

Live in a way that shows others that we really do know Jesus – and we know what He has done for us –

Jesus has released us – so we can live this way – and He is the reason God forgives us – and the reason we can all – look forward to a future in His heavenly Kingdom –

The second part of being a witness is being willing to share our faith with others – its not about overwhelming people – or forcing them to listen – but simply – sharing what’s in our heart –

For some Christmas can be a real worry – the pressure to spend more than they can really afford can be a tremendous strain – instead of a time of joy – its becomes a time of frustration – even depression – they get – distracted from what Christmas really means –

We have to remind them –that the most important thing about Christmas is Jesus – and that He can change their lives –

Point 3       Jesus will make a difference to peoples lives

A little boy was with his Father – looking curiously at a Nativity scene – in a shop window – “Daddy” – he said – “Look at the manger – is Father Christmas there? – “No” said his Father – it’s the Kings giving presents to Jesus – remember we told you – that Christmas is really about – a celebration of Jesus’ birth –

The boy thought for a moment – and then asked another question –

Daddy – “What are we giving Jesus for His birthday this year?”

The greatest gift any one can receive at Christmas is Jesus – and the best gift we can give Him – is ourselves –

In our NT lesson – Paul gives us our – eight steps to a Christian life –

Be joyful – pray to God always – give thanks whatever happens – be ready to learn from God – but – test everything – against Scripture – and what we know of Him – don’t let go of what is right – don’t be cohersed into taking a wrong step –

The third Sunday of Advent used to be known as Gaudite Sunday – from the Latin word – meaning to rejoice – Paul suggests – we should build people up brick by brick – and radiate with the joy of Jesus – giving thanks for whatever happens to us

A four year old boy was asked to say thanks to God for the good things and the food he was about to eat at his Christmas dinner –
He started by thanking God for his friends – naming them one by one – -then for his mum and dada and sisters – and Grandma and Granddad – and then he began to thank Him for the food – the turkey – the potatoes- the gravy – and then he stopped-

And after along silence – he looked up at his mother and said – If I thank Him for the Brussel Sprouts – won’t He know I’m lying?

Some of us find it easy to be thankful – in tough times – others find it hard to be thankful even in good times –
Paul says we should count our blessings all of the time – even for Brussel Sprouts –

Prayer is a fundamental – part of being a Christian – there are many opportunities to pray – at a set time each day – while we wait – with others – when someone shares a burden – we can all pray for what we see and hear

Our church needs to be a place where people can find God – hear God – and grow in God – where we can develop a loving and lasting relationship with Him and with each other –

Remember the 3 F’s to a full life – Faith – Family and Friendship – all of these are to be found in our Church – so lets make sure others find them too –



Advent is a season of hope – of joy – of waiting – knowing that the day – will be made new – in Jesus Christ

As Christmas approaches – lets not get distracted by all the trimmings – but keep ourselves firmly focused – on the real meaning of Christmas – and lets help others realize it too – and then perhaps with God’s help – this Christmas – someone we know – will receive the greatest gift of all


In the Name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit