2nd Sunday of Advent

Sermon Title: 2nd SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Date: 6TH December, 2015

Preacher: Rev’d Susanne Chambers

Church Calendar Date: 2nd Sunday of Advent

Lectionary Reading: Malachi 3:1-4, Song of Zachariah, Philippians 1:1-11, Luke 3:1-6

Last week we were inspired by the words of Jenifer McKenzie as she explained the symbolism of why we have gone ‘blue’ for Advent. I have summarised her explanation which you will find on the blue insert in the pew sheet!  Jenifer encouraged us in our faith journey, following the example of our patron saint Paul.

Last week Paul addressed his letter to the small community in Thessalonica. One of the very first gatherings of Christ followers. His letter was about thankfulness, joy, love and relationships. An encouraging letter.  He says at the beginning of 1 Thessalonians 1:3 “the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all”.  This apprentice Christian community was like a tree with roots going deep into love…which is where they got their strength.

In today’s epistle readings from Paul to the Philippians, Paul again prays for this community and does so with joy. Joyful because they have shared in the gospel. The good news of Jesus Christ.  It appears that Paul is writing from a prison cell. In verse 7 he speaks of his imprisonment – and there can be no more isolated and lonely place than a prison cell.  For Paul to know that the Philippian disciples were continuing to share in the truth and reality of the gospel would be to him as a light in the darkness and consolation in his suffering.

We can have our own ‘prison cells’ in life, and to hold on to the fact that people care and pray for us, is also a light in our darkness.

Recently I saw some amazing paintings by an artist called Mary Duffy.  The artwork I saw were a cycle of seven paintings. The title of the collection: “The Unknown. The birth of the Spirit through awareness of embodied presence.”

Mary said in the introduction: “Love alone is useless if it is without understanding.  The more blind love is, the more instinctive it is, and the greater the danger of destructive consequences. Spiritual love needs the company of insight and understanding, which in turn brings perspective. These functions of thought, or Logos, join with love to make it a light that shines in the darkness.”

St Paul says something similar to the community of faith in Philippi: “and this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best….”  (Verse 9,10a)

Paul is speaking not only to that community in Philippi, but also to us now and so are people like Mary Duffy and John the Baptist.

It’s interesting to reflect on John the Baptist in our gospel reading today. Luke sets John in time and place: “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea…etc”

The point Luke is making is to place ourselves in our time and place.eg  …”in the fifteenth year of the twenty-first century, when Malcolm Turnbull was Prime Minister of Australia, Robert Doyle was the Lord Major of the city of Melbourne, Philip Freier was the Archbishop of Melbourne and Primate of Australia, the word of the Lord came to the community of St Paul’s Canterbury.

We can be all ‘local John the Baptists, to whom the word of the Lord comes and through whom God prepares the way for the coming Christ so all people might see and receive God’s salvation.

I’ll conclude with a few more words from Mary Duffy:

“The spiritual life means living lovingly: in partnership with Life; with responsibility towards Life; with the recognition that Life has its limits and cannot give us everything.  Living lovingly means that in Life we are always given a choice. It challenges us to always accept what Life offers. Life is a series of paradoxes and consequently we need to continually enlarge our perspective.”

So as we prepare in this Advent season, with expectation and love, let us encourage one another and share the good news

The Lord be with you.