Today, Sunday 29th November, Sr Amy preached at the Holy Eucharist at 8am in St Mary’s, here are her words.
Today we begin the new Church year. Advent is here and as Christians we begin to prepare ourselves for our Lords birth. In the reading from Jeremiah this morning we have heard of Gods promise; ‘I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Saviour.’”’ (vv. 15, 16 – NIV). Here God is promising to send Jesus into the world, to redeem mankind. Advent is the time when we prepare our hearts, minds and spirits for Jesus’ arrival on Earth.
Jeremiah brings us to a point of realisation about who Jesus is and what he came to do. Fast forward around 450-500 years and we find ourselves in the depths of the Gospel reading for this Sunday. Jesus, the Lord Our Righteous Saviour is warning us about being complacent. We do not know when Christ will return, even Christ does not know. It could be very easy for us to claim the second coming is now but, also, we must not be lazy in our lives thinking he won’t be back for a centuries. Not only is advent about preparing ourselves for Christ coming to earth as a baby, but it is also preparation for when he comes again… so are we ready?
Christ says ‘Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.’ (v. 36). Be alert! We CANNOT be lazy and lukewarm – we are warned about being lukewarm in the Revelation to St John; ‘I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.’ (Revelation 3: 15-16) Christ has called us, you and me, to spread his Gospel to all nations – to everyone we know. ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.’ (Luke 21:33) The saving message that is the Gospel will never pass away, we will die, our words will die but Christ’s promises, his salvation and his words will never die – they will be spoken from generation to generation for eternity. It is our job, our mission, to help keep his words alive. We must be alert and on our guard, constantly being aware of worldly temptations and distractions but keeping focussed on Christ and sharing his love.
When Christ was praying in the garden of Gethsemane he asked Peter, James and John to stay awake and keep watch. When Jesus came back to find them asleep he said; ‘“So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”’ (Matthew 26: 40-41). We are constantly bombarded by temptations in life, we all have our vices and things which pull us away from God. It is these that will make us fall asleep and distract us from being on watch. ‘the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ our spirits MUST be willing because our flesh is weak. We will succumb to temptation if we do not have a strong spirit and relationship with Christ. The devil is constantly trying to distract us and stop us from doing the Lords work. To keep a strong, willing spirit – get to know God more. Spend time studying his Word, talk to others about him, pray. Always turn to Christ for help, support and strength. Do not be lazy, do not fall asleep whilst on watch. Rather always be on your guard, awaiting the return of Christ, and always share his love, grace, mercy and forgiveness with those whom you meet.
And so as we prepare ourselves for Christ’s arrival, in the words of St. Paul to the church in Thessalonica; ‘May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.’