Second Sunday of Advent
December 8, 2019
First Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10
Second Reading: Romans 15-4-13
Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12
A New Hope We have in Jesus Christ:
The word Advent means “coming” it is a time to slow down, be quiet and mediate about the real meaning of Christmas.
There are two and a half weeks before Christmas and we still have time to prepare our hearts and our lives as we wait for the coming of Jesus.
Let’s focus on the promise that God made to his people and how that promise was fulfilled in Jesus.
Advent is also the beginning of the liturgical year. The season begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends on the day before Christmas. It may be a time for new beginning for us as Christians.
Change is among us in this time of Advent expectation. Many of us may have already experienced the kinds of change that faith can bring, but that doesn’t mean the change is over.
Yes, a year older this Advent season, one more year of knowledge, another year immersed in the life of faith. Advent is a reminder that change is upon us, and while those changes may cause some temporary tears, they also will have moments of joy!
Advent is also that unchangeable season when the same concepts, the same words rise over and over again, year after year, to challenge our hearts and minds.
Advent is the season of waiting. And who hasn’t waited? As children we waited to open presents, although as adults I think we are just as impatient about gifts. We wait in lines at the bank, the store and DMV.
But really in the season of Advent, it is important that we slow down, wait patiently and realize the real Christmas gift in Advent is the process, as we learn to calm our hearts and minds and focus on Gods promise. The birth of a baby, the savior born in Bethlehem.
John the Baptist
The Second Sunday in Advent and our attention is turned to John the Baptist in our Gospel reading today.
John the Baptist is the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth who preached a message of repentance and salvation, John saw himself as a forerunner of God’s promise of the savior of the world, who will be coming.
John is the last of the old covenant prophets. Since he was in his mother’s womb, he was chosen by God and he has been expecting Jesus, so why shouldn’t he be the one in Advent to help us prepare the way?
In a book called Peculiar Treasures, describes John the Baptist with a little humor.
John the Baptist didn’t fool around. He lived in the wilderness around the Dead Sea. He subsisted on a starvation diet, and so did his disciples. He wore clothes that even the rummage sale people wouldn’t have handled. When he preached, it was fire and brimstone every time.
The Kingdom was coming all right, he said, but if you thought it was going to be pink tea, you’d better think again. If you didn’t shape up, God would give you the axe.
Your only hope, he said, was to clean up your life as if your life depended on it, which it did, and get baptized in a hurry as a sign that you had. Some people thought he was Elijah come back from the grave, and some others thought he was the Messiah, but John would have none of either.
Our reading in Isaiah: A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1)
The spirit of God and the branch a new life, is Jesus, the new life that is coming into the world, becoming incarnate in the womb Jesus is the one appointed King of Kings and Lord or Lords.
God didn’t come into this world with a fortune of money and power and influence, God chose to become human and live among us.
The Savior of the world was born a vulnerable child. He entered this world, with a very humble family, born in a manager, lying on straw surrounded by animals. The King who will rule all of creation lies in a humble manger. The world He entered was far from perfect, full of sin, pain and darkness. But he was sent with promise of a new life of hope.
The Apostle Paul explains it in his letter to the Romans (Romans 15:13)
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”.
Advent and Christmas calls us to praise God as we actively await the coming of Christ, prepare our hearts and lives for his arrival, and claim and celebrate the new hope we have in Jesus Christ.
Rev. Lola Culbreath