Thursday, 24 December 2015

4th Sunday of Advent 20 Dec 2015 Sermon

4th Sunday of Advent 20.12.15 Are we ready?

Are we ready for Christmas? I don’t mean the shopping. Are we ready to greet the Saviour?

Are we ready to meet Him at Bethlehem, or at any of His appearances – such as the Eucharist, the Final Judgment, or His daily interactions with us?

It is the same Divine Person we meet in all these cases. We focus on different aspects of His identity but it all centres on Him. ‘Courage, it is I!’ (Mt 14,27)

It comes to questions of this sort:
Do we trust that He is the ultimate answer; out of all the people and things in the world, that He is the one we most need to be right with.
Do we love Him more than the people closest to us?
Do we love serving Him more than any of our favourite pursuits?
Do we grasp that He is more important than any other person or thing, or any other voice of authority?
That He is more truthful than anyone else; in every way more reliable?
Do we see Him as someone to love, not just to fear?

All of these questions, and more, could be asked by way of what it means to be ready for Him.

If Advent is a season of preparation then have we prepared? It is hard to say what is enough, but more is always better. Have we just put a toe in the water, or are we wading deep into the sea – as regards how seriously we seek to be His disciple?

We put a lot of restraints on our dealings with Him. We tend to take Him only in bits and pieces, disjointedly. We fail (generally) to see His absolute overriding importance.

For some He is relegated to ‘religion’, which they do not want in any form.

Others may be ‘religious’ to a degree, but they reduce Him just to certain times and events, eg someone who always goes to Midnight Mass, but not any other Mass.

All time, all places, belong to Him. The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof: the world, and all they that dwell therein. (Ps 23,1)

Even those who are more committed can still just be going through the motions. Our religious devotion has to be from the heart.

We need His help, of course, for this to happen. We need Him to help us be ready for Him.

‘Prepare ye the way’ means removing all the restraints or barriers we put before Him.

God wants to come; to save us; to take us to Heaven; to patch up this earth to be like Heaven. He has the power and the will to do all this. The only thing stopping Him is that we don’t let Him!

We might say we are not stopping Him, but we are insofar as we sin against Him, and put our will ahead of His; insofar as we argue with Him; or refuse to do basic things, like prayer.

We cooperate with other processes. If we were lost in the mountains we would be doing everything in our power to attract the attention of the rescue party.

But when God the Son comes to rescue us we make difficulties for Him.

We tell him His commands are too hard. We refuse to trust Him. We keep Him at arm’s length. We abandon Him.

So it comes back to Prepare the way… this means to make it easy for Him to find us.

God is insistent in delivering His message, but He does not force our final consent.

He might remove our false securities by way of directing us to Himself; but the final decision will be ours.

For our part we don’t have to be chastised before we obey. We can get in first.

And we obey not out of fear, but love. All with His help.

May He find us ready when He comes.

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