Today we celebrate the Second Sunday of Advent and we are called to prepare the way of the Lord. Our bishop referred in his pastoral letter for Advent that we need to prepare the way of the Lord, especially in these challenging times with a world wide pandemic going on and all the restrictions that come with it. Just like John the Baptist does in today’s Gospel reading as predicted in the prophesy of Isaiah in the first reading. He prepared the minds of people for the age of the Messiah. He was the herald of the good news and points out to the coming of Christ: “I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the holy spirit”. Jesus found his first disciples among the disciples of John the Baptist. John taught the value of self-control and of prayer. He teached them to listen to listen to that quiet inner voice within their hearts….Gods voice.
The high point of John’s short ministry was baptizing Jesus an pointing out to him. He encouraged his own followers to join the Jesus movement, which some of them did. It was through the Baptist that Andrew and his brother Peter, and Philip and Nathanael became apostles. We are also called to be like the Baptist. Each one of us can help others to come to Christ. If we are committed we can bring others to faith. But this works only if we lead by example. There is no better way of preaching the Gospel than through the example we set. We probably know the phrase: Preach the Gospel, and Since It's Necessary, Use Words. I love that phrase that is contributed to Francis of Assisi. In all kinds of way we have the possibility to influence others in their journey of faith.The words that we speak and the actions that we do shows other people how people of faith live their lives. We can help others to share our values. If we don’t live the Gospel we confirm what their suspected: that this world is a selfish place!
We need to show the world that being people of faith is visible in the way we are towards other. To fulfill the commission of Jesus “love one another, as I have loved you” and “go and preach the Gospel to all creation”. In practical sense: “feed the hungry, clothe the naked” and so forth. Bring people to Christ and maybe it brings some to ordained ministry. The future of our church depends on it. If enough people open their hearts to God’s work, like John the Baptist and the first disciples, then news ways will be found to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Isaiah speaks about power of the Lord in a different way as we are used to in this world. God is like a shepherd feeding his flock. He gathers them in his arms and gently leads them. This is a very tender power, a life-force of faithful and enduring love, a love that gathers and nurtures and reassures. This is the God whom John the Baptist invites us to rediscover this Advent.
It is the God that comes to us in Jesus Christ. John the Baptist points to him as “he that is mightier than i”. Jesus is the powerful one, in the sense that Isaiah defines power. He gives full expression to God’s tender love. He is the “Pastor Bonus”, the Good Shepherd. He that brings healing to the broken, strength to the weak and rest to the weary. It is this grown up Jesus, the risen Lord, coming to us in that baby in the manger, that we celebrate with Christmas. John the Baptist calls us this Advent to prepare the way for that Jesus. The Good Shepherd in whom mercy and faithfulness have met, justice and peace have embraced, as the psalms tell us. This is the God One we seek this Advent, this is the One the world needs more than ever. Only he can give a greater depth to all our other encounters and only his kingdom will ultimately create a better world. Amen.