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Preparing the Way for Jesus

Lismore Anglican Parish Bulletin Insert  Author Rev Al Shaw


Sunday 7th December 2014  ADVENT 2B    9.30am Lismore

Preparing the Way for Jesus   Mark 1: 1-8, 2 Peter 3: 8-15a, Isaiah 40: 1-11

Being the first Sunday of the month we welcome those who desire to be baptised – along with their families and friends – into our Family worship.

How ironic that this week’s bible passages from Mark and Isaiah speak of the coming of John the Baptiser – a messenger (who happened to be the cousin of Jesus) sent by God to prepare the way through repentance and baptism for Jesus’ ministry. And the people flocked to John to be baptised and to hear his message of hope and forgiveness.

The prophet Isaiah foretold of John’s coming many years earlier, and here we see in Mark’s gospel that prophecy come to pass.

Whilst John was calling the people to repent (which means to turn away from self-indulgent behaviour and habits that don’t glorify God) through the act of baptism in the River Jordan in readiness for Jesus’ eventual arrival, he went to great pains to not draw attention to himself – rather he pointed to the coming Messiah. Certainly John was an eccentric character who developed a following of avid disciples. But his focus was always on being prepared for the eventual coming of the Messiah foretold in ancient scripture.

Do we do the same? Are we focused on being ready for Jesus’ eventual promised return? Do we live and behave such that by personal example we are pointing others to Jesus? Or do we draw attention to ourselves – even turn them away?

Scripture tells us repeatedly that nobody knows the hour or the day this will occur. And whilst it’s tempting to slip into a comfortable nonchalence, we are called to do all within our power to prepare ourselves and others for that wonderful event – whenever that might be.

Let’s start by welcoming all who come through our church doors as we would if they were guests in our own homes. A small gesture of hospitality may be the beginning of a life-changing relationship with Jesus and his people.


Isaiah 40: 1-11    God’s People Are Comforted

401 Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.  3 A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5 Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’ 6 A voice says, ‘Cry out!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever. 9 Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings;* lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,* lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’ 10 See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. 11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.


Mark 1: 1-8   John the Baptiser Appears in the Wilderness

11 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; 3the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”

4John the baptiser appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptised by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptised you with water; but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”