Sermon for Second Sunday of Advent
Advent this year has brought in me a real mix of feelings and thoughts.
I really appreciated what Alma said last week about the preparation and the question to us about how we prepare for most things but how are we preparing for the journey of life. Advent is certainly about preparation and is about seeing this preparation as to do with life.
The online bible study through the diocese to which a few Shetland folk contribute has also been a source of thought and encouragement for me.
This week attention was drawn to baptism (in fact it was Rachel that brought this point) and the way Advent could be a time to remember our baptism and the promises we have made and the assurance of Gods redeeming love for our own Christian journey.
Mark as we know does not have a narrative about the birth of Jesus. For Mark this spotlight of God is put wholly and completely on the baptism of Jesus.
Whereas our Christmas Stories fulfill the function of humanity recognizing God at work in the person of Jesus… for Mark it is the Baptism where this happens and the climax of this for mark is that declaration “This is my beloved son”
From this point in his story mark unwraps all the ways in which the Good news of God’s love is shown and made clear.
I am pleased that two of our Gospels do not have a birth narrative. John and Mark.
It is also interesting to note that Mark was the first Gospel to be written, and John was the last. In neither is there talk of Mary and Joseph and the donkey, the shepherds or even wise men.
People often worry today that with all the commercialization of Christmas and the hype and focus on presents and cards etc, the real meaning of Christmas is lost.
But I also want to say to the church that sometimes with all the focus on the stable, the point of Christmas as A Christian feast can also be lost. It is after all so easy to pack away the trappings after the story has been exhausted.
Mark’s simple declaration “This is my son, the beloved with whom I am well pleased” really says it all. The spotlight is firmly set on Jesus and we would do well to follow this good news as it unfolds. This Good news is not so easily packed away in the boxes.
So if Advent can help us remember Baptism this is surely a good thing. We will realise that the journey we make is one of faith and one that we continue to learn about throughout or life.
To jump ahead to John the other gospel with no stable we are shown at the outset a light that enlightens the world and one that gives us the power ourselves to be children of God.
So on this second Sunday of Advent lets us indeed be prepared. Our Baptism, or whatever moment we personally declared allegiance to God in us, is the beginning of a journey. A journey, a process , which we carry throughout our life.
The Stable we shall soon inevitably visit is but a part of the recognition of God at work, it is not the whole story.
Advent reminds us of the need to be ever watchful and wakeful to the openings of God… and from our epistle today
14Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.