Pause for Thought

Sunday 5th December:  Advent 2:  Luke 3  1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,  during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him. Every valley shall be filled in, and every mountain and hill made low. The crooked ways shall be made straight, and the rough ways smooth.  And all humanity will see God’s salvation.’ ”

Luke was very specific about when John the Baptist came to announce the arrival of the Messiah.  The cruel Tiberius had replaced Augustus as Roman Caesar and the Jews were a very oppressed people.  Many of them had almost given up believing in the Old Testament prophecies about a Messiah who would come to save them.  When John the Baptist began to preach, he gave the people hope and crowds followed to listen to him.  His message was a challenging one though – “Repent!”  Despite their problems the Jews were called to put right their own relationship with God and be baptised – a symbol of renewed cleanliness of heart.  They were to prepare for the coming of the Messiah.

Amid the shopping, coloured lights, the writing of cards and other current preparations for Christmas, we too are called to prepare our hearts to celebrate the anniversary of the coming to earth of Jesus.  We too are called to put right our relationship with God.  Can we make time to prepare for Christmas in this way by renewing our relationship with God in a spirit of repentance?

 

12th Decmeber: Advent 3:  Luke 3  7-11

Then John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  Produce fruit, then, in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.  The axe lies ready at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” The crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” John replied, “Whoever has two tunics should share with him who has none, and whoever has food should do the same.”

Last week we heard how John the Baptist called the people to repent to put right their relationship with God.  Now we hear the next part of John’s message.  We mustn’t sit back and rely on the fact that we are God’s beloved people.  We must be active in our repentance by putting right our relationships with other people.  We are to show them God’s love in action by treating them with love and generosity.

What can I do this week to live out my love for God in the way I treat others?

 

19th December:  Advent 4   Luke 1  39-45

In those days Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah, where she entered the home of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  In a loud voice she exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!  And why am I so honoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For as soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord’s word to her will be fulfilled.”

This week we read of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth to share with her some wonderful news.  She had been told by an angel that she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus.  She had no idea what was ahead of her, but after the initial shock, Mary accepted God’s challenge with humility and obedience.  As she talked with Elizabeth, Mary would have felt supported and encouraged by her older relative.

Christmas reminds us that we too have been challenged to be followers of Jesus.  We too, can be encouraged by talking - in prayer with God and with other Christians.  Let’s talk more about Jesus!

 

25th-26th December     Luke 2  1-7

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that a census should be taken of the whole empire. This was the first census to take place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.  And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, since he was from the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to him in marriage and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her Child to be born. And she gave birth to her firstborn, a Son. She wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

We have come to the end of another troubled year in our world.  The Covid 19 pandemic has seemed to raise its head once more with a new variant arriving.  There have been renewed fears about the state of our plant, and calls to us to take more seriously the way in which we treat the creation that God entrusted to our care.  The media continue to report incidents of man’s inhumanity to man, poverty, and homelessness.

YET – once again we are reminded of the birth of a saviour, Jesus Christ.  That simple story tells us of God’s continued love for us and his continued presence amongst us. He will never leave us - “I will not leave you comfortless” Jesus told us later, and “I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”

Christmas is a time for rejoicing – not because of presents, cards and decorated treas, but because the baby whose birth we celebrate grew up to be our saviour.  He will be with us for ever.

Happy Christmas to everyone.  Rejoice!

 

 




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