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From the Priest-In-Charge of Sarum St. Martin’s

Advent 2 2018

The Prophet Baruch was amongst the exiles in Babylon reading the signs of the times and looking forward to the return to Jerusalem.  And so he proclaims, ‘put on the beauty of the glory of God for ever … put on the diadem of the glory of the Eternal on your head.’  Dress in your finest and turn ‘your eyes to the east:’ from where the power of God comes and so, ‘see your sons reassembled from west and east at the command of the Holy One, jubilant that God has remembered them.’  For, ‘Though they left on foot, with enemies for an escort, now God brings them back to you, (Jerusalem), like royal princes carried back in glory.’  The exiled Israelites will come back to the holy city and to the Temple.  And on their return journey, ‘… God has decreed the flattening of each high mountain, … the filling of the valleys to make the ground level so that Israel can walk in safety in the Glory of God.’  It will be the Lord God of Israel who will lead Israel back to His holy Mountain, Jerusalem, the Holy City and to the Holy Temple where God dwells amongst humankind.  The prophecy of Baruch is the exile’s expectation of return, and God Most High will do it, for ‘God has remembered them.’

‘In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee …during the pontificate of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John …’ and John proclaimed ‘a baptism of repentance … as it is written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Isaiah:
… Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.  Every valley will be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low …’  And why? because, ‘All mankind shall see the salvation of God.’ For all humankind, exiles from the heavenly Jerusalem, shall be brought home to the Holy Mountain no longer exiles but fellow citizens with Christ in the Kingdom of God. 

The language and the imagery may be remote from 21st century English and so may confuse, but the meaning and the message remain as clear as when Baruch and the Baptist first proclaimed it: the Lord is coming to gather in His people: so, PREPARE for the coming of Jesus.  And how do we prepare? It is summed in one word and in one action: ‘Repent’ and accept the saving action of God Most High in his ‘Forgiveness’.

St. Paul wrote to the Church in Philippi that he had established these words, ‘This will help you to become pure and blameless, and prepare for the Day of Christ …’  St. Paul was encouraging the Philippians to live their lives as though they were Christ; Christlike lives he was saying, show that you are serious in your Christian endeavour and wish to make Christ known in that place where you live.  The apostle continues that if you ‘always recognise what is best’ and live what is best then when the Day of Christ comes, ‘you will reach the perfect goodness which Jesus Christ produces in us …’
Three passages from Scripture; one message; repent, accept the forgiveness of God and so prepare, for the coming of the Lord is upon us.

Fr David Fisher

Already one whole week of Advent has passed.  Time therefore draws on, and the voice of the Baptist stills says, ‘A voice cries in the wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord.’  That wilderness is you and me; we are the wilderness to which the Lord comes, those who having accepted the Lord fail to live as the Apostle Paul would have us live.  So we must repent.  We must seek out that means by which we can repent and so know that forgiveness of God in our lives.  Know Jesus, he who comes with the power of God Most High from the east, as the prophet Baruch prophesied; accept Jesus, as the Baptist cried; live Jesus as the Apostle wrote.  And so Prepare to meet Jesus, He who has gone before us on our Christian Pilgrimage carrying in His body the marks of our Redemption.  We must ‘put on the beauty of the glory of God for ever’ for ‘God has remembered us.’  And do so now, for the time draws on, the time comes near, ‘so that Israel (us) can walk in safety in the Glory of God.’



Almighty God, you have made us members of Christ and of his Church in this parish. May we as a congregation reach upwards to your throne in worship and adoration: inwards to one another in understanding and fellowship; and outwards to the world in evangelism and social compassion. Make us like a city set on a hill whose light cannot be hidden, so that men and women may find Christ as the Light of the World, and his Church as the family of the redeemed, and eternal life as the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.

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