There is no substitute for preparation. A successful outcome is usually dependent
on thorough preparation. Anyone involved in decorating a house is well aware that
an excellent finish relies heavily on good preparation. Tedious as it can be, rooms
have to be cleared, cracks and gaps have to be repaired and surfaces have to be sanded
and smoothed. That is why Margaret has always done the decorating wherever we have
lived. I would just paint round the wardrobe instead of moving it. Similarly a professional
musician can only give a masterly performance when years have been spent on practice
and developing skills and hours in rehearsals; an artist may well have several sketches
and outlines prior to the execution of the final painting. A sportsperson can only
give of their best in a competition when fitness and training schedules have been
completed. Preparation is an essential part of the final process – and that is where
John the Baptist comes in.
In our Gospel passage today, Luke emphasises three things about John: he was called
by God in the wilderness; he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness
of sins and he was the one who prepared the way of the Lord. John is essentially
the “preparer”, the one who goes before. His role is to alert the people and to make
sure they are ready to receive the message of Jesus. This is done through reference
to the prophets, particularly Isaiah and Malachi. As Isaiah in the Old Testament
announced that God was about to bring his people home from their long exile, and
that nothing should stand in his way, and Malachi stated that God was sending his
messenger to prepare the way, so John is there to make this wake-up call to the people.
He invites them to listen to the word of God and to undergo baptism to show their
change of heart.
We are aware of the need for practical preparations for Christmas, but what about
the spiritual preparation? The essential ingredient in John's preaching was the call
for repentance – a change of heart and mind. We can so easily get caught up in a
way of life which is less than we would wish or desire. At times we are less honest
with ourselves or with others. The season of Advent offers the opportunity to change
things round; to look at ourselves and our behaviour in the light of God's loving
forgiveness. We are encouraged to prepare for the coming of Jesus by refocussing
our hearts and minds on him and the love that he shows. The preaching of John the
Baptist challenges us to look beyond the immediate and to be alert to the qualities
which really matter and which can transform our lives.
Lord Jesus Christ,
teach us to anticipate your return
by preparing the way for your coming;
to catch a glimpse of your kingdom
through living by its values today.
Live in us now, so that the day may come
when we live with you and all your people
for all eternity, your will complete and your promise fulfilled.
This prayer we ask in your name.
Canon Dave 4th December 2021
Canon Dave’s Weekly Message
Whilst travelling on the train from Doncaster to Sheffield during last week I encountered
a highly amusing conversation between two ladies who sat opposite me in the carriage.
One said, “ I don't feel very Chrismassy yet but tomorrow I am going to the festive
markets in Matlock which may make me feel more Chrismassy.” The other said, “I know
what you mean and I feel exactly the same. There is so much to think about and everything
is so expensive.” I chuckled and thought to myself, what does feeling Chrismassy
Thursday 9th December 7.30pm at St. Anne's Beeley
'The Garden Singers' (A new local choir) will sing traditional carols, new ones and
some from the Middle Ages
Admission free with all donations to church funds.
SERVICE OF LESSONS AND CAROLS
Tuesday 21st December 7.30pm at St. Peter's Edensor