Church of England Diocese of Norwich St. Peter, Sheringham

Message from the Minister: The Second Sunday of Advent

6 Dec 2020, 1 a.m.
Today’s Gospel reading from Mark introduces us to a very important but also very humble man: John the baptist. If I did not already know that John lived close to the land, dressed in camel hair and eating locusts; I might have imagined that the messenger ahead of Jesus of which the prophet Isaiah speaks, would maybe have been somewhat grander, suave, celebrity like, someone that would have made a visually pleasing impact in order to garner the approval and attention of others. But no. John clearly didn’t want fame, celebrity status or groupies. His unique mission was to bring others to God through repentance and Baptism, preparing them for when the time came to receive and follow Jesus. John’s whole being was focused on God and God’s mission and playing his part in preparing the way of the Lord. John set his sights not on this world and it’s expectations, worries and concerns but on the coming of the “The one who is more powerful”. This kind of humility requires putting our own wants and needs aside, laying them all down at God’s feet, acknowledging that no matter how hard we try to do it on our own, we cannot.

This year has been and sadly continues to be so hard for so many, but maybe amongst the difficulty we can also see how it may have humbled us. It has been a year that has made us see things differently and helped us to put many things into perspective. It has challenged our faith and relationships and made us question the things we hold dear and take for granted. The restrictions have taken away our coping mechanisms, taking a toll on our well-being and maybe even how we see ourselves, as we grieve and fight the anxiety that comes from never feeling settled. This forced stripping away of what is familiar leads us to feel vulnerable, but this way of being also has the potential to strengthen our relationship to God. If our focus is 100 percent on the world, we risk succumbing to despair, disillusionment and fear. If we turn to Jesus and say that we cannot do this alone, we too will be humbling ourselves as we admit that we rely on and need God. This can make us feel very uncomfortable, yet deep within this vulnerability lies a dwelling place where God patiently waits for us.

It will not be the same celebrating Advent and Christmas Day this year. Some of us may feel that it is not safe to do so even though we are told we can be together. Let us not sit too long however with feelings of guilt, sadness and disappointment. Instead let us humble ourselves before God, as we create a quiet space within ourselves that is in need of God’s love and guidance. In this more humble expression of Advent and Christmas, with John the Baptist as our inspiration, let us keep our focus on God and take comfort from knowing that the most important and wonderful gift of all, was given to the world through a very humble and simple dwelling place.

Just as John prepared the way for Jesus’s Ministry on earth, let us prepare a straight path that leads to a humble dwelling place within our own hearts and lives, as we await Jesus’ birth. 

Natalie Rees