A reflection for the 6th December 2020
Second Sunday of Advent

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Offered for Sunday 6th December 2020


Stephen

Reflections Script

Second Sunday of Advent

December 6th 2020


A class of
fourteen-year-olds
were asked:
"Who is
John the Baptist
for you?"

"One student putting
up his hand replied:
"He is a wild man;
cool!"
Asked to explain,
he said he admired
John for being able
to live in the desert
without any visible
means of support,
he admitted some
curiosity regarding
his clothing,
some amusement and the
"Ugg" factor
at the thought of
eating locusts,
although the honey was "okay".

The class consensus
was John was more
interesting than many
of the characters
we read about in
the New Testament,
many of whom were seen as
"goody-goody",
while John had something
of an anarchist about him.

The students were right
to see John as the
"Wild Man of God".

John is a complex character
whose life had several
levels of meaning for the
ministry of Jesus.
But above all else
his words reach
down the centuries
to challenge us,
addressing our own call
to be followers
and disciples
proclaiming the word of God.


Let us Pray


Jesus said:
'If one of you wants
to be great,
they must be the
servant of the rest'-

Jesus said:
'Unless you change
and become humble
like little children,
you can never enter
the Kingdom of heaven'-

Jesus said:
'Happy are those
who are humble;
they will receive
what God has promised'-

Jesus said:
'Be merciful just as
Your Father is merciful;
love your enemies
and do good to them'-

Jesus said:
'Love one another,
just as I love you;
the greatest love
a person can have
for their friends
is to give their
life for them'-

Jesus said:
'Go to all peoples
everywhere and make
them my disciples,
and I will be
with you always,
to the end of the world'.

Lord you have redeemed us
and called us
to your service:
give us grace
to hear your word
and to obey your
commandment to tell
everyone the Good News,
for your mercy's sake.Amen


Address


"They say Aslan
is on the move;
perhaps has already landed."

This is the voice of
Mr Beaver in C.S. Lewis's
The Lion, the Witch
and the Wardrobe,
speaking to Peter, Susan,
Edmund and Lucy.

They have no idea who
Aslan is or the significance
of these words.
Even so, something in them
jumps at the name of Aslan.

Edmund feels
"a sensation of horror"
for reasons which will
become clear as
we read the book,

but the other three
experience wonderful
sensation of encountering
something lovely
and deeply meaningful.

Later, the Beavers
describe Aslan as
the 'Great King
and Lord of all'.

He's also a lion,
which comes as something
of a shock to the children.

From this point
in the story we are
watching and waiting
for the great Aslan
to make his appearance
on the pages of the book
even though we
don't know what
that will mean.

Mark begins his
account of
"the Good News of
Jesus Christ"
with words crafted
to bring with them
a sense of excitement
and wonder but also

a sense that something
potentially frightening
is about to happen.

He introduces us to John,
proclaiming in the
wilderness a baptism
for the forgiveness
of sins.

With John's voice
Mark then sets
the stage for the
dramatic entrance of
the "one who is
more powerful"

Throughout his Gospel
Mark will write about
the secrecy of
Jesus' identity,
and how people fail
to recognise him as
the Christ and
misunderstand his
words and actions.

But Mark wants
to make sure we
understand from the
very beginning who it is
we're reading about.

He reaches back into
the Hebrew Scriptures
to prophecies made
about the coming
of the Christ:

Malachi 3:1
"See, I am sending
my messenger to
prepare the way
before me"

Isaiah 40:3
"A voice cries out:
'In the wilderness
prepare the way
of the Lord,
make straight in the
desert a highway
for our God".

Mark then describes John
as that messenger
preparing the Lord's way,
using words similar
to a description of
Elijah in 2 Kings 1:8

"a hairy man,
with a leather belt
around his waist".

This is significant too
because it was generally
believed by the Jews,
before the promised
Messiah came
Elijah would
return to earth.

Finally we hear
John proclaiming
there is indeed someone
more powerful than
him coming soon.

From Mark's account
of what is happening
here, we can surely be in
no doubt this
"more powerful" one
is in fact the Christ,
God's chosen one,
Messiah.

Certainly huge numbers
of people responded
to John's cry by
repentance and baptism.?

But what about us today?
As we prepare for a
very different
Christmas we probably
cast our minds back
to nativity scenes
and plays we've
encountered over the years:

angels, shepherds,
cows and a donkey,
Mary and Joseph and,
of course,
a newborn baby.

But what about
pictures of hairy prophets
calling out loudly
we need to think
about our lives,
repent, turn away
from the things we say
and do which hurt us
and other people?

We're to get in that river
and be soaked through
so we can go on our way
clean and right with God.

In the lion,
the witch and the wardrobe,
when Peter, Susan,
Edmund and Lucy
learn Aslan is a lion
they're shocked
and a little afraid:

"Is he safe?" they ask.
"Who said anything
about safe?" says Mr Beaver,
"course he isn't safe.
But he is good."

We might be challenged
this Advent to prepare
the way of the Lord
into our lives once again
or to renew our search
for purpose and meaning
if we feel we're
drifting aimlessly.

If we're busy,
stressed and
overwhelmed by
all there is to do
we are still challenged
to clear a space,
for God to reach us
and for that still
small voice speaking
peace on earth.

Or we might be energised
by an exciting urgent
voice telling us to get up
and do something
to bring God's
kingdom nearer.

Perhaps we are called
to be prophetic voices
in our day,

called to "speak tenderly"
to God's people
in preparation
for the day when
the glory of the Lord
will once again
be revealed.

Whatever God's challenge
to us this Advent,
whether it's unexpected
and scary or
reassuring and gentle,
one thing we can be
sure of is

that it will be coming
from a God of
goodness and love
who wants only to see
our salvation and proclaim
just like John the Baptist
the Good News revealed in Christ.


To Summarise


Mark is careful to
explain to his readers
the significance of
John the Baptist
and his role in
preparing the
way of the Lord.

We are left in no doubt
that the one who
is to come after John
will indeed be the Christ.?

John calls us to respond
to his message as well.
In Advent we wait for
the birth of Jesus
but also for his coming again,
and we need to prepare
ourselves for that
and to proclaim the Good News.


Final Prayer


and challenge
under the heading of
'Reasons Not to tell
the Good News'

I'm to Young:-
God our Father,
when we are young in years
we are valued for being
Your children,

but we have little
to offer because
we are young and
what we have to offer,
is not of worth,
let the older ones use
their wisdom and experience!

Paul says to Timothy:-
"Don't let anyone
look down on you
because you are young,
but set an example
for the believers
in speech, in life,
in love, in faith
and in purity"

I'm to Old:-
God our Father,
when our limbs start
to ache and be less
responsive than we were
when we were young,
retirement and taking
a back seat
seems to be
the best option,

let the younger ones
have their chance
we say,
we have done our bit!

The Lord had said to
Abram "Leave your country,
your people and your
father's household
and go to the land
I will show you.....

So Abram left,
as the Lord
had told him,
Abraham was 75 years old

I can't Say the Right Words:-
God our Father,
I sit and observe
and listen and respond
but I have not got
the words to say,
other people can
say things far better
than me from the pulpit
to the queue at
the supermarket,
Lord keep me quiet!

The Lord reached out
His hand to Jeremiah
and said
"Now, I have put
my words in your mouth

I'm not Strong Enough:-
God our Father,
I am not a strong
person and have not got
the courage to stand
and be counted for you,
other people are far
more courageous,
use them for the
revealing of Your Kingdom,
and leave me in my weakness!

Paul tells us
"We can do all things
through Christ who
strengthens us"?
I'm to Poor:-
God our Father,
I am both poor in spirit
and in pocket,
and to be effective
in this world you really
need to have both,
may you find and
use those who have both
wealth of spirit
and of pocket.

James tells his readers
"Listen my dear brothers:
Has not God chosen
those who are poor
in the eyes of the world
to be rich in faith.

I don't know Jesus:-
It's all well and good
not being able to
respond because
your to young,

to old, can't speak
because your
weak and poor,

what if you have not
said yes to Jesus
in the first place!

John tells us
in the book of Revelation
that Jesus,
stands knocking
at the door of your heart,
why not respond now,
and let Him in.


Our Blessing


May the God of peace
revealed in Christ
by the power of the
Holy Spirit,
give you comfort,
lower the hills
and raise the valleys
before you,
and enable you to hear
afresh the Good News of
Jesus Christ
and then share the
Good News of Jesus
with the whole world
starting with those
around you.
And the blessing.......


group