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

Advent 2 2019

IWe all know the old adage, ‘You wait ages for a bus and then three come along along at the same time!’  It must have been bit like that for Israel at the time of Jesus, only the people might have said, ‘You wait 490 years for a prophet and then 2 come along at the same time!’  John was the first to appear, and then came Jesus.  These two cousins, for that is what they are, were indeed prophets, but much, much more besides.

John came out of the wilderness and down to the River Jordan and began to preach as a ‘Voice crying in the wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.’  And then one day there stood the King, John’s cousin, Jesus.  After the extraordinary events of John’s conception and birth the Gospels are silent about his early life, but we may reasonably say that he and Jesus would have known each other.  Zechariah and Elizabeth would have visited Mary and Joseph and vice versa taking with them their only born sons.  They must have played and talked with each other, and perhaps even speculated together about their respective vocations.  We do not know when John went into the wilderness, perhaps after the deaths of his agéd parents, but that he did we do know, and there, either as a hermit or as part of a desert community he prepared and waited for the propitious time, the time ordained by God, for him to appear offering a baptism of repentance, ‘for the Kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’  John, who dressed and spoke as a prophet, yet not just a prophet, but Elijah, The Prophet, the forerunner of the Messiah, the One who would come before The Holy One, Messiah, the King of the Jews.  Is it any wonder that ‘Jerusalem and all Judaea and the whole Jordan district made their way to him’.  He, Elijah, was expected, for this was the propitious time, the Jubilee of Jubilees, when Messiah was prophesied to be coming. And Jerusalem listened to his message and ‘they were baptised by him in the river Jordan confessing their sins.’
Indeed, ‘Repent and prepare for the Kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’ And that cry of the Baptist still rings out in the Church today.

We will have been preparing.  How many hundreds of pounds have we spent on presents and food and wine and beer?  And there can be nothing wrong with this if it is that we can sit down with our family and friends.  But how much have we spent on Advent preparation?

Have we spent time in prayer?  Extra prayer than normally, not asking but seeking to grow into God as God longs us grow into him.  Have we?  Have we used the opportunities provided to allow this to happen?  Have we spent time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament as we can at Thursday noon in this Church, knowing Him that we might grow into Him?  Have we?

Have we spent time in reading sacred Scripture or holy books?  Extra reading than normally, not seeking to grow in intellectual prowess but rather to know more about the love of God in the history of his people.  Have we?

Fr David Fisher

Have we spent time in fasting actually giving up some food, and then giving away the money saved that the homeless, like Jesus at His birth, may be housed?  Have we?

Have we spent time in examination of our sinfulness that we might confess those sins and be assured of the grace of God in forgiveness?   Have we?

For Christians to whom God has given all the joys of life to enjoy, Advent must, repeat, must be a time to heed the cry of the Baptist on the banks of the Jordan, ‘Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight’ that is, make our lives straight with God our Father by the exercise of his grace.

John was indeed a prophet, but much, much more besides.  John was the forerunner of the King of Israel, the one prophesied by Isaiah, Elijah come to make the people straight with God that they may welcome into their lives the Holy One of Israel, Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Mary.

As the people of Jerusalem listened and then prepared so must we.  We must not just listen, allowing the words to pass through us but must listen and allow the words to stick that those words may make us ready to greet the King when he comes, for come He most assuredly will, on Christmass night yes, but also at an hour we do not know. 

My dear friends in Christ let us be ready to go out and greet him filled with His Advent grace, singing His praises with all the angels, that He may be our life and we truly be his disciples who live with His Christmass life.



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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