Today we lit our third candle in the Advent wreath. One more to go before we light the Christmas candle.
How are your preparations going? Have you sent off your cards, bought any presents, ordered the food? Or are you someone who is so busy that you prefer to leave it to the last minute and hope for the best?
Last week* I wrote about John the Baptist who was called to go out to prepare all the people for the coming of the promised saviour. All the rough places had to be made smooth, and the crooked things had to be made straight – and that’s talking about changing people’s characters, not just the landscape! But the people wanted to know “What does he mean? How can we straighten ourselves out? How are we expected to shape up for the coming of the King of Kings?”
So John gave it to them straight. “Don’t think that you’ll be OK just because you can trace your family history back a long way; don’t think that you’ll be safe just because you look respectable. You need to do more than give up doing bad things; you need to make a difference by acting in a much better way.
The money men should stop cheating people; the legal authorities should stop taking advantage of people; and anyone who has enough food and clothing should share with those who don’t.”
The message is still the same today. If we want to be able to receive Jesus when he comes, we must prepare our hearts and lives before he arrives. We must treat each other with respect, we must love justice and mercy and be generous to one another.
Generally we don’t have any problem with this when it comes to our own families at Christmastime, but we need to remember that we are all part of God’s family and we should not let a brother or sister suffer while we hurry by in comfort.
So think about what we do this Advent to help prepare a generous and loving Christmas for all people? After all, God’s generosity was so great that he gave his only Son to make sure we could have new life in the present, past sins forgiven, and hope for the future.
This Advent, do we have the courage to look at the world and engage with it and see where we can act to make a difference?
*See last Sundays Sermon HERE