Sermons from St Faith's
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
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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