Tag: advent 2C

Christmas Dilemma

Sermon, Advent 2C, Sunday December 9, 2018

Philippians 1:3-11

9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.

Luke 3:1-6 All people will see the salvation of our God

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar – when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene – during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
“Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
    every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
    the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation.”’[a]

7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptised by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The axe has been laid to the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.’

10 ‘What should we do then?’ the crowd asked.

11 John answered, ‘Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.’

12 Even tax collectors came to be baptised. ‘Teacher,’ they asked, ‘what should we do?’

13 ‘Don’t collect any more than you are required to,’ he told them.

14 Then some soldiers asked him, ‘And what should we do?’

He replied, ‘Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your pay.’

15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, ‘I baptise you with[a] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptise you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’ 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.

We Christians find ourselves in this dilemma at Christmas.

We live between two stories. One is told with earthly authority and considerable force; the other comes from other-worldly dreams and words of biblical proportions.

The mind says go along with the worldly story for it is easier and more fun. But a heart of faith says we are taking the harder option and the long way home with the other-worldly story that comes via the Voice of biblical proportions.

Today John the Baptist is that other-worldly voice.

John announces with beautiful words from Isaiah about a level path ahead for planet earth, mountains lowered for us, valleys lifted for us; clear and straight and easy journeying with God into his future …

This is a beautiful good news story because our current ways are anything but smooth, straight and safe.

The other story at this time of the year seems to rise up like a mountain every year. The Christmas tunes played earlier and earlier. The decorations the same. Songs of living faith once, reduced to muzak to accompany the real Christmas preparation for this alternative Christmas story – shop ‘til you drop!

But to hear this other-worldly story of God we need something else to happen first. We cannot hear it by our own intellect of effort. We need God to shout it to us. We need the Spirit to prepare us, and that is the part of the story we may not like much. The world certainly does not like it.

It has been a long time since I laid an axe at the root for a tree where the roots begin ready to lay the first blow to fell that whole tree. But I have done this with my Husqvarna chainsaw lately – it is quicker and more fun!

This is the picture John used to describe how God needs to prepare us for Christmas. Some preparation! Death and complete destruction. This tree cannot live in God’s new future as it is.

John tells it like this for a reason – to prepare the world to receive what God is doing: to prepare people for God’s new story of biblical proportions.

John is a CFS siren. He is the not the Nuri fire alarm predictably sounding out three times on Thursday at 7.30 pm, which surprises no-one. He is the siren sounded twenty times on Saturday afternoon at 1.30 pm. He gets the town’s attention!

Has he got your attention?

He says something in us has to die for this complete birth and life of a person; a Someone, who is coming to bring about something new for people that will make us new trees – strong and true, is to be truly received and loved.

Why so brutal?

Because we believe ourselves to be strong trees despite this new King and his kingdom coming. We tend to believe we are already all we need to be.

Even more, the people John spoke to believed themselves to have the right family tree – the right family name, the right behaviour, the right roots, the right goods.

They were the good people and they were very keen about their goodness. Everyone else should be very good like them.

So keen were they to maintain their own name and place in God’s good books, they became blind to those who did not or could not. In their pursuit of goodness on their own terms they could not see the vulnerable in society. They don’t really care either.

That is the tree that needs to be felled. In their self-focus, self-reliance and invincibility they had not just missed the vulnerable, but the Lord and his heart for the vulnerable – including them.

That was the offensiveness of John – daring to suggest that the good people with the right name and family tree and behaviour were vulnerable and in need for a new day, a new way, a new man …  How dare he suggest that!

Sounds like our world. Sounds like that alternative Christmas story. How dare you Christians interrupt this happy story with all of its happy songs! How dare you speak of death and destruction at this happy time. How dare you speak of faith more than food, discipleship more than drink, the smell of cow dung and the scratch of straw more than the warm crackle of fireplaces and stockings and eggnog in the lounge room!

Surely we do not want this alternative story to be THE story because we know him and his story of biblical proportions that has come to us, for real.

He has come to us by more than dreams but by a real act in real time – baptism, the worship gathering of God’s people, the gift of body and blood a thousand times … Forgiveness, healing, hope for the vulnerable, peace for the unsteady, life for the dead, strength for the tired and new for the old.

We know what it has cost our God to fell us and then re-grow us – the death of this boy on the tree.

We know what tree was felled so that a new vineyard, a new forest, a new landscape of strong and true trees of the field has come to be

And this is why we clap our hands at this time of year – because of the wonderful acceptance and love of a God who is with us and for us and working through us and will come again to complete everything.

Friend, God’s axe;  God’s word is striking at your very roots today. Not to destroy you but to wake you up, so you may be renewed so you stand strong and tall in grace this Christmas.

And when you are strong and true in the gospel of Jesus, you are happy not to have two shirts but keen to give away one to a one in need of a shirt.

You become happy not to make a lot of money just for yourself by any means, but you are content to play fair with integrity in business for the good of all.

You are happy to not get your way by any means; means of using power and stand-over tactics, but you are content to stick with the truth of things and let that be enough no matter what it costs you.

With this boy and his calling to be him among our friends and family this Christmas we are definitely going to take the long way home as we follow him.

There is no easy way to live in the Christmas Dilemma. It takes faith and courage born of repenting and believing daily. But we have serious help.

9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,

Let the axe fall where it needs to today. He will prepare him room in your heart and you will be strong and true in him again.

John answered them all, ‘I baptise you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Our Coming Saviour: Week 2: Hearing Herod

SermonOur Coming Saviour

Advent 2, Sunday December 6, 2015

St Petri

After Playing > herodskit guys.wmv

 Hearing Herod

Luke 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,

‘Prepare the way for the Lord,

    make straight paths for him.

Every valley shall be filled in,

    every mountain and hill made low.

The crooked roads shall become straight,

    the rough ways smooth.

And all people will see God’s salvation.’”[a]

 

It is dark isn’t it? He is dark. Herod seemed to be a human being devoid of any love, any true service, any humility – a man locked up in himself. When traveling in Israel we were privy to see some of the many fortresses the Herod’s built around the country. They needed lots of places to which they could escape when someone tried to betray or win over them, such was their lust for power and dysfunctional family politics. Herod was a man on ego power drugs, willing to murder members of his own family at times; willing to murder John the Baptist; willing to murder a thousand baby boys under two years old to preserve his place and his things and his image of greatness.

Whether Herod like it or not, the wheels of change, or should we say the feet of the camels of the Eastern travellers are in motion! The timing is all God’s. The means are all God’s. Good news for some, bad news for others like Herod. The skies are shining and angels are singing. Star gazers are noticing the camel train of events leading to a foundational shift in the way the human community will be from now on.

But people like Herod feel threatened. Are we feeling threatened, are people in our families, in our work places, in our schools, in our streets and on our farms feeling threatened by Christmas coming? Hardly. Christmas has become unthreatening, sweet, a play thing, a magic thing…

When you think about, the relentless move to dismiss, dilute and destroy the news that God is one of us in Jesus must be threatening to most people because as a Western world, we are gradually squeezing the truth and power out of the season. The weight of these world shifting events is gradually being lost to our children.

The Christmas machine is remaking the characters into sweet things – quite harmless now. I walk around Nuri and see mainly santa claus lights, reindeer figures, candy canes and trappings of a snow laden winter – snow we don’t have Down Under! We in the Western world have been throwing the real characters of God’s Holy Spirit created movement out and replacing them with imaginary characters that take all the bight out of what God has done and still is doing.

Many of us are hanging on to the real story and trying help others do that too. Now and again we manage to say something about the real story as best as we can. But we are wondering why our community is so relentless in destroying the story?

Is it because we just cannot believe that the Divine could be so human? If God is one of us then he must be of no use, no princely power, no charisma, no “pulling power”. He would not win an election in a world where popular vote and personal choice are king.

Is it because we are frightened of accountability to a Creator God who by his very being has authority to shape the world and shape me? If he is the final authority and he knows what it is to be human then he can rightly call me to account for who I am and what I am doing in life. He can and offers to change my life, my values, my vision of my future and for many this is not always a comfortable thing.

Is it because we are just lazy. Shepherds, young couples, old couples and eastern travellers sensed the greatness of this Christmas truth and marvel at the radical nature of the Bible’s message about God entering our world to forgiven it, bring peace to it and restore families and communities to love and hope and thriving life. Have even we who are in Christ and know his love for real become complacent, taking him for granted, and just got swept along in flowing tide, getting busy with doing life our way.

Herod had to face the news of God, and he did not like it one bit. He had to hear it and he got the message. A Saviour is a threat to my very human and broken soul. A Saviour knocks the self out of the driving seat of my life. A Saviour changes my vision, my goals, my sense of self, my direction, the way I relate to others, my work, my community.

Are you liking it? Am I? Truth be told, there may be plenty of times we don’t want a Saviour like us; who knows us completely – flaws and shame and pain and all. He knows too much and calls us to too much!

But this Saviour coming is not Herod. He is nothing like Herod at all. He does not kill a thousand baby boys but brings to birth this one and only baby boy of his, and millions of men and women since.

He fills in the valleys of suffering and depression and aloneness and shaves off the top of mountains of impossible decisions, tough circumstances like back and charred landscape and souls, hard choices and the temptations that seek to beat us.

He shows us the way through crooked places bit by bit, day by day and he goes before us to show us where to keep in the light, the love and the life he gives. The charcoal will eventually turn to green and growth again, as will our spirits.

And all people will see God’s salvation.

Whether or not you or your people want to, wish to, don’t want to or wish they did not have to see this God of ours on the move in the baby, they will. Today, tomorrow, this year, next year, on a Tuesday or a Sunday, in doubt and cynicism or in fear and crying out for help, they will see him. We will all see him.

They probably won’t see him in the santa claus, the reindeer, the stars or the seas, or the tea leaves. They will see him in you. That’s God’s program: revealing himself as human and divine through human people with the divine working in and through them by the words we speak and actions we take. This is God’s expressed desire; and all to not to condemn the world but to save the world from itself through wise travellers like us doing our travelling with faith in his light and love for him in our hearts.

John was the voice calling in the lonely place and we heard him. The Saviour he announced still calls in ten thousand voices, “Prepare! Prepare for me again. I place myself in your arms to hold and admire and love”.

The Spirit calls us to hear Jesus but be aware of Herod within and around. “Wise and snakes and gentle as doves”, the bible says.

We are not here to condemn the Herod we see but to help the “Herod’s” whenever and wherever they pop their heads up in our daily interactions. We are called to help them hear someone other than themselves; to hear this Saviour in hay and shed and as a result be set free from endless power seeking and self-focus, instead resting in the Saviour’s saving love and kindness.

We even have this Saviour Jesus challenging the Herod within us whenever he pops up and we have the Saviour’s promise to love us and continue to travel with us through the ups and downs with him ahead, alongside and behind.

Let’s be aware of Herod within and around, but then let’s turn away from him and lend our ears to Jesus.

He will speak and you will see him.

He will love and we will be accepted.

He will change our views and re-set our vision and we will be free and find joy again.

He will save and we will be new.

In the name of Christ.

Amen

 

CONVERSATION STARTERS

We hear of John the Baptist again today. Share what you have heard about him so for in your faith journey for a minute or two….

Read the text again noting the time and location of his ministry and then his goal and message.

Luke 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, …. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,

‘Prepare the way for the Lord,

    make straight paths for him.

Every valley shall be filled in,

    every mountain and hill made low.

The crooked roads shall become straight,

    the rough ways smooth.

And all people will see God’s salvation.’”[a]

This is quite an introduction! Luke does this because if you read Luke 1:1-4, he sets out to ‘carefully investigate everything’ and ‘write an orderly account’.

Many believe that Mark’s gospel was the first written record of the eyewitness accounts of Jesus. Many also believe that before Mark put his gospel together, there was an first collection of written accounts that has been called ‘Q’ (from Quelle in Latin that means “first’).

Luke’s gospel is written to “Theophilus”. People see that this could be a real person named Theophilus, or name used to cover up either a single person’s identity or a whole church’s identity (for people under Roman persecution) or a name that means it is written for all “lovers of God’ which is what “theo-philus” means.

Note, we get the first naming of Pontius Pilate right here at the beginning of Luke’s account (3:1).

We also get the names of the High priest who would play a significant role in the crucifixion of Jesus – Caiaphas.

 

Note how it is ‘the Word of God’ that creates everything after this. Everything begins with God speaking. Our God speaks. Human ‘gods’ don’t. They are merely things of stone and wood’ as it often says in the Old Testament.

 

When I see footage of monks in Tibet or go into a shop that has a Buddha sitting on the counter, I remember that these ‘gods’ cannot speak. I go the Bible or I listen in worship or talk to my friends, and God speaks through all of them.

 

 

John is on the move. He proclaims a simple message. Repent! Turn away from what you have known or believed about yourself or the world or God and listen up. Place your ears and your trust on this One who is coming into the world to FORGIVE.

 

Some have sad that the real ‘glory of the Christian church’ is the gift of God’s forgiveness. Through us Christians, God who has the final say on everyone and everything says “not guilty” to people who have been guilty of ‘chasing after things of stone and wood” (see around Jeremiah 2:27 – this is God’s charge against Israel when they sought idols and not trusted him; see also around Ezekiel 20:32 for s similar word of God on human idolatry.

 

As we have said before. There is really only one commandment in the ten from which the other nine flow. As we donlt love the Lord with everything we are and have, then we will break the rest in one way or another and the problem is always us wantng to be god (like Adam and Eve).

 

Idolatry is not some Old Testament thing about statues, it is about human beings and their flawed nature they have (The “Old Adam” as Paul calls it). Addictions, greed, lust, envy and etc are still part of the Christian struggle (Se Romans 7: 14ff…).

 

But thanks the Lord that in our baptism into Jesus and with him every day we have a way through and present and future are lived in his forgiveness – the ‘glory of the church’!

As is always the case in the gospel and the New testament it is loaded with the Old Testament. Just look how much there is of direct quote from the Prophets ad Palms in this first part of Luke’s gospel (chapters 1-3) for example.

Jesus’ coming the completion of the story of God’s activity with people in the world. God has always been God, able to judge and condemn and able to forgive and save in wonderful grace. Jesus is the ultimate expression of this. He is the “complete package”.

As the Apostle’s and evangelists tell the story of what they saw and heard, they cannot help but see the grace of God in the Old Testament and how it has been fulfilled in Jesus and his church in the New.

This particular quote is from Isaiah 51 – a fantastic word on the grand scale of God’s grace given in the coming Messiah, Jesus.

Go through and imagine the picture Luke paints of John and of God on the move in his time.

Imagine how the people of the early church heard this stuff on a Sunday morning. Most of them were Jewish (at least at the beginning).

They would have been amazed at what they heard. The stories and the faith they had grown up with were being revolutionized before their very ears!

EXAMPLE:

It would be like you learning something completely new about your own family story. You would then have to totally re-evaluate everything you ever heard about your family to fit this remarkable new part in.

Have a think about it and try to come up with a scenario of how this might happen in your family.  

 

 

How do we as Jesus’ disciples make the valley’s rise and the hard and high points low so that people who don’t know Jesus’ grace get to him and stay with him in their journey?

How do you view “repentance”? Share your immediate thoughts on the word and what it has meant to you…..

Some people believe that it is something we have to manufacture some great sorrow for our sins and try and name them all and beat ourselves up enough for God to forgive us.

This is not so in the Bible. Repentance is a GIFT of God to us that comes via the Holy Spirit and his work to ‘convict the world of sin’ as we hear God’s law. We are then shown where we have fallen short of the glory of God and then we hear that sweet gospel word of God’s love and forgiveness given fully and freely in Jesus, at great costs to God!

So repentance is not some dark and sorrowful thing (although we can experience sorrow and shame for our rejecting of God’s kindness sometimes and that is a good thing because we just run to Jesus more quickly!) but repentance is also a faith thing. We come to the Lord with faith in his Word, his promises, his assured grace and love for us in Jesus to ask him to make us new, clean us up, renew us in faith and love and hope and continue on the journey.

So God’s forgiveness is not dependent on how ‘sorry’ we feel or how many sins we can list or if we kneel or stand when we pray. God’s forgiveness is based on God – his grace in Jesus. So repentance is all about faith, about trusting him for his promises of love and acceptance for any sin any time.

How does this account of John the Baptist inspire you in your own life?

In what kind of ways would you like to be more like John?

 

PRAY: Lord, level the deep valleys and high climbs ahead of us and help us follow you with courage, faith and joy. Amen.

 

 

Way to God

Advent 2012

Sermon: Advent 2C,Dec 9th, 2012.

St Petri

 

Luke 3:1-6

A way to God

Spirit of God, make the way straight for us to hear and believe your word, for your word is truth and life. Amen

Friends, we hear of the way to God this Advent morning. “The Way to God”?

If there was ever a quest that would mark our age it would be the quest to find a way to the divine

Of course, in our climate, any way to find God – without Christianity is all the rage. Any other way is OK. If we Christians ever comment or criticise another way to God being offered, then we are bigoted and narrow. If other ways to God on offer criticise Christianity they are applauded! Nothing new here – we are used to it now.

Regardless of this, there are many ways to God, or fulfilment, of life, or the divine on offer daily for us and our young people and children.

Here’s a few ways on offer – ways to God.

The way to god is:

  • Being good  – doing what the bible says to keep God happy with me
  • Pretending to be good – keeping up appearances out of loyalty to church or family or self expectations
  • Not bothering to be good at all. Finding God in not seeing the world in “good and bad” terms but just as it is terms – of course though, then we have the problem of meaninglessness. If nothing is good and noting is bad and all of this good and bad stuff is just a human construction – then all is nothing.
  • Not bothering to be good at all – searching for meaning in anything and everything – no limits of sex, relationship boundaries, and moral code in behaviour…..
  • Concentrating on self – rejecting God and religion and becoming myself through various experiences – chasing the bucket list, attending events, courses, groups to fulfil myself – because no one can or will – including God…..
  • Concentrating on others – doing good things for others regardless of God – just because it is better to live that way.
  • Emptying one’s self and finding the great unknown – the great spiritual existence that exists somewhere – finding the secret way, the hidden way, the way to peace and contentment
  • Collecting gods and keeping them happy – a good luck charm for travel, for sport, for study, for peace in the home….

How shall we find a way to God? How shall we help people find a way to God?

But maybe this is the wrong question?   It seems that God is finding us!

Every valley shall be filled in,

every mountain and hill made low.

The crooked roads shall become straight,

the rough ways smooth.

And all people will see God’s salvation

God is the one making finding him possible. God is the one making a way for us to see his freedom and love for us – our “salvation”.

So, because God is finding us and making the way to him possible for us, John can then cry out how we receive God’s new way.

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness.

Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”

We don’t find God. We receive what God is already doing for us.

And the way receive God’s new way?

 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near”.

The way to receive God? “Repent” cries John. Turning toward God, laying down self, sorrowing for wrong done to and against; an act of humility, an act of faith in God’s goodness….

The way to God; the way to fulfillment, purpose, and meaning is repentance? The way to receive God’s life is a turning away from self and sin and darkness and evil and a turning toward truth and light and life – in the Advent king Jesus? Not what people are hearing or want to hear….. Well maybe…..

I heard this story once.

A number of years ago a couple travelled to the offices of an Adoption Society in England to receive a baby. They had been on the waiting list a long time. They had been interviewed and carefully scrutinized. Now at last, their dreams were to be fulfilled. But their day of happiness was another’s pain.

Arriving at the offices of the Society they were led up a flight of stairs to a waiting room. After a few minutes they heard someone else climbing the stairs. It was the young student mother whose baby was to be adopted. She was met by the lady responsible for the adoption arrangements and taken into another room. Our friends heard a muffled conversation and a few minutes later, footsteps on the stairs as the young mother left. They heard her deep sobbing until the front door of the office was closed. Then, there was silence.

The lady in charge then ushered them next door. In a little cot was a six week old baby boy. On a chair beside it was a brown paper bag containing a change of clothes and two letters. One of these, addressed to the new parents, thanked them for providing a home for her baby and acknowledged that under the terms of the adoption each would never know the other’s identity. Then the young mother added one request. Would they allow her little son to read the other letter on his eighteenth birthday? She assured them that she had not included any information about her identity. The couple entrusted that letter to a lawyer and one day the young man will read the message which his mother wrote on the day when with breaking heart, she parted from him.

I wonder what she wrote? If I had to condense all I feel about life and love into a few precious words what would I say? I would have no time for trivia. I would not be concerned about economics, politics, the weather, clothes, even future job prospects of career really. I would not be at all concerned the size of house or the type of car. At such a time I would want to dwell on the life-giving things of life, on what life was all about and what things were absolutely essential. I might find myself outlining the way to God.

John was doing just that. Time was short. Like this couple in a big moment, John had to get to the core quickly. Soon the sword of Herod’s guard would flash and his tongue would lie silent in the grave. Soon the way to God would be here – the messiah, the new road, the new way, the new holy highway to peace and joy and life and people had to get ready for this massive change and huge shift in destiny.

One word; Repent. Metanoia. Turn around. Turn back toward God for he is meeting you now where you are at, and calling you to a totally new way to deal with your sin, your idolatry, your brokenness, your weakness. A tsunami of change is coming and complete peace with your Creator is on offer.

Repent of your self-aggrandisement, your chasing for the way to God in the things you think you know. Turn away from triviality, mere surface level observance – religious or otherwise. Repent of reliance on family tradition and custom. God can make church members out of rocks on the ground, says the fiery man in the desert.

Repent of your comfortableness with unforgiveness and grudges. Turn away from judgemental heart – keeping all the “bad” people at bay and all the “good” people free.

Give up you your distraction, your indifference and seek the new man, the new way to God and his peace, his life, his calling

“Repent” – Short and simple – the only way to be known by God.

Repenting for John is more than having a change of heart or a feeling of regret. It is more than a New Year’s Eve resolution. Repentance is a turning away from ourselves, and in simple trust and faith in God’s grace, turning back to him.

Each of us is invited to come to Jesus one-on-one. At least that’s what John says.

He says prepare for the advent; the coming of Jesus. There is no room for relying on your pedigree as a dyed in the wool Lutheran or an extra special member of this parish. There is no room for pleading ignorance concerning God’s call to come clean with him and repent. No, there is only room in your heart for the grace of Jesus – your heart filled with his peace so you can live in his peace and get on with his mission to bring peace to all those you know who know no peace with Jesus.

Turn to him this Advent so that your peace may be full this Christmas.

Amen