Sermons from St Faith's     


Being Prepared

Revd Denise: Advent Parade and Toy Service 2012

Today is the start of a new Church year, Advent starts the Christian calendar and it is a time of preparing and waiting as we journey to the great celebrations at Christmas which mark the birth of Jesus, God’s greatest gift to all of us.

Scouts please can you remind me what your motto is? BE PREPARED! Thank you and that means being prepared to let Christ into your lives and in all aspects of Church life as well.

I suspect that for most of us the next four weeks will be hectic, the usual Christmas rush to get everything organised, cards written, presents bought and wrapped. Food prepared, plans about whose turn it is for visiting and who’ll be offended if they don’t get enough attention and so on.
In  four weeks Christmas will be over, in 5 we will probably have made a new set of resolutions and in 6 the decorations will be packed away for another year and we will be back to …WHAT??

Will life be just carry on the same old way, will we be the same or will we be changed?  If we take Advent seriously then I certainly hope we will have moved on in our spiritual lives   because we will all have had the chance to think, reflect and pray once more about Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem. This new season of Advent helps us to anticipate God’s fresh beginnings with the birth of his Son Jesus Christ and also to celebrate the promise that Jesus Christ will one day come again. What Jesus’ birth meant over 2000 years ago and what it means to us in the 21st century is the same.  Jesus still enters into a damaged, fragile world with all its pain and suffering and also its joy and wonder and he longs for us to recognise his presence in all people and all things. God sent his Son as a present to the world, the gift of a loving presence which is the greatest gift ever offered to people. The Gospel stories don’t tell us that Jesus gave material gifts to people but that he always gave his personal presence, gifts that were treasures of the heart; belief in ourselves, inner healing, peace of mind, compassion, forgiveness, dignity and justice. All those things that make us the people we are today. God gives so generously and his loving presence within us should be the real focus for our Christmas gift-giving.

Today there are hundreds of gifts in Church today: for a start the gift of all these beautiful trees, which in turn will bring in gifts for all the charities they represent. Our gifts for the children of Sefton, the God given gifts we carry within ourselves, the gift of Advent itself and later in our service God’s greatest gift of all his body and his blood in the sacrament of Holy Communion.

Yet these things can only happen with careful preparation the Christmas trees look as magnificent as they do because of the thought, time and effort that so many people have put in to the festival and not least its organisers.
Scouts …… Shout out your motto!

Later Kirsty will receive her first Holy Communion and she has been working really hard to prepare for this special occasion; she knows God is working on us all the time encouraging us to be more like him.
In today’s reading we heard that it was John’s task to prepare the way for Christ, not in the sense of a warm up act before the headliner at a concert but as one who would get people ready to welcome Jesus when he came. John tells the people to ‘turn around; you are going the wrong way, he had the courage and strength needed for this challenging task and he demanded nothing less than a change of heart. You won’t be ready for Christ if you go on like this, he says. Say sorry for the wrong you have done, be cleansed and turn towards Jesus Christ. Are we going the wrong way I wonder, getting lost in the chaos within us, the impatience, intolerance, greed, resentment, jealousy, aggression, immaturity and so on all huge stumbling blocks along our paths.  The cleansing experience of baptism gave John’s followers a real sense of belonging to God and a solid hope for the future. The baptism John offered then is the same as today, a commitment to a life in and through Jesus and we need to echo John’s example in our own lives. Like him we are called to prepare the way for Christ so that others today can meet him for themselves and know of his presence in their lives.
Scouts ……. Shout out your motto again!

Today we offer prayers for Kirsty, she was baptised at St. Mary’s 6 years ago and her Christian journey is now leading her from baptism to her first Holy Communion. Baptism opens the door to the Eucharist that great celebration when we are united with Christ at his Holy Table. Just as we enjoy special meals with our friends and families and offer them not only food and drink but also ourselves so Christ offers us the same but in the most complete and perfect way. Taking a loaf of bread, blessing it, breaking it and sharing it signifies unity, community and peace. And the great mystery is that at the Eucharist, this human act is the way we recognise the gift of God’s presence among us. When we gather at the altar and eat and drink together we become the living Christ here and become a body of people witnessing together the presence of Christ in the world. ‘Though we are many, we are one body because we all share one bread.’  These words call us to action.

So this Advent, be called to action, don’t get lost in the commercial Christmas rush but make time and space to pray. Pray to have a greater understanding of God’s love for us and pray that our love for God may grow daily. God comes and seeks room in our lives, he wants us to be aware and recognise him. He lavishes his gifts on us but he also needs our love and attention.

John the Baptist’s message is clear, be prepared to change and by doing this our world can be changed for the better.
I now want everyone to shout out the Scout Motto …….

This Advent I pray that we may all BE PREPARED!       


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