Church of England Diocese of Lincoln St. Mary and St. Gabriel Binbrook

5 December 2021 Second Sunday of Advent

5 December 2021 Second Sunday of Advent

Readings Baruch 5, or Malachi 3:1-4, Canticle: Benedictus, Philippians 1:3-11, Luke 3: 1-6.

As we travel through Advent following the clues offered by the Patriarchs, the Prophets, John the Baptist and the obedience of the Virgin Mary in the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ the focus in the readings set for the Second Sunday of Advent are on prophesies.

Malachi lays out the fulfilment of the prophesies of Isaiah as he says, ‘See, I am sending you my messenger to prepare the way before me (Malachi 3: 1). Whilst preparations are being made for the coming of the Messiah what are the hidden messages for us to uncover? Malachi continues, ‘the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.’ (Malachi 3:1). Does he mean a physical temple like our church or does he mean the spiritual temple, our hearts?

Behind the joyfulness of the message is an element of fear because Malachi says, ‘Who can endure the day of his coming and who can stand when he appears?’ (Malachi 3:1-2). This is exciting and frightening at the same time because it builds up suspense. Who is coming? How are they coming? What can be expected from this individual?

The suspense continues in Luke’s description of the proclamations of John the Baptist. He fulfils the prophesy of Isaiah,’ The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ (Luke 3:4-5).

In John the Baptist we have the forerunner, born of Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin most likely round the time of Jesus birth, or a little bit earlier, at the end of the first century BC. He died by being beheaded somewhere between 31 and 36 AD. John is portrayed as one part of the fulfilment of the prophesies but his task is to prepare the way for the Messiah, the ‘one who is more powerful than I’ (Luke 3:16).

John proclaimed a baptism of repentance and in order for us to be ready to receive Christ in his Incarnation we ought be in a state of grace, open and listening in the silence for the great moment of his birth. He is also a very powerful figure in the forming of our faith because he shows great courage in the face of adversity, hardship and lack of food whilst living in the desert. He also shows great obedience to God, fulfilling God’s purpose for him right to the end of his life when he is beheaded at the behest of Herodias. He indicates we have to be receptive, strong and courageous to be ready of the birth of Christ. It is not easy to be a disciple. There are adversities to face and the words of the prophet Malachi present John standing in fulfilment of the prophesy ‘Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of the children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse ’ (Malachi 4:5-6) – the very last verse of the Old Testament!

Jesus equates the prophesies of Malachi to the ‘messenger’ the one God appointed to prepare for His coming so that John stands as the herald to the one who is coming and whose work and whose being are very different from his own. John is preparing for the Messiah. He is the forerunner

How do we react to that message – are we going to be ready for the Messiah to come or are we too tied up in the minutiae of life? In this advent time of preparation will we be ready? Or will we be too busy to recognise the way Jesus works in our lives?