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Sunday Worship 12th December 2021: Advent 3

Updated: Dec 13, 2021

Welcome to this morning's Sunday Worship service for the Third Sunday in Advent, including Holy Communion, led by Rev. Christine Fox.

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Rev Christine Fox:

Thank you to all those who have been part of arranging this week's service.

Below you can find this weeks Message. The full service sheet can be found here.

Message: “What should we do?”

No-one likes to be told that something they were doing that they thought was the right thing, is wrong. I for one am someone who wants what I say and do to be right, and find it devastating if I find out I’ve said or done something wrong! But in no uncertain words John the Baptist challenges the motives of the crowds who were flocking to him to be baptised. It had seemed to be the right thing to go and do what so many others were doing but now this wild man who had been telling them to repent and be baptised didn’t seem very pleased with them!

But to their credit, once John had finished shouting at them they asked ‘What should we do then?’ And John responds to them with very specific answers. He sees that they need help to get their heads around what he has come to understand through years in the wilderness with God. They need examples of the way of life that will draw them closer to God. He knew that the response to having repented and been baptised is a fundamental change in a person’s way of life – baptism isn’t just something that one does and then goes back to life as it was!

We can guess that John had seen this happen and that people hadn’t really grasped the importance of the complete change of way of life symbolised by the baptism – the baptism itself not being something magical, only a sign of the washing away of sin and the beginning of a new life as God would have people live. Maybe he saw that though they’d been baptised they needed some instruction, so John helps them out with some specific examples of what they should do to give then the right idea – first - anyone who has more than enough should share with someone who has nothing.

To the tax collectors his advice was to be honest and not take more than they were required to. To the soldiers – be content with your pay.

We could apply those three straightforward rules to our own lives – share if we can, be honest, be content with what we have. Today some of you have shared what you have by spending money on toys for children who have none, and others will try to always be honest in your work. Some of you will have decided to be content with what you have. But don’t think these are the new rules for everyone. They are in fact just types of the fruit that will grow out of a heart that has opened itself to the cleansing love of God, washing away all that separates it from God, and so that love of God is able to flow directly through that person, influencing the way they live and affecting those they live among.

The key to ‘what we should do’ in any given situation is to remember that God is with us, God has already come to this earth, revealed in creation, born among us, and still longed for by those hoping for a right way of living and being.

For each one of us to share, to be honest, to be content with what we have, can be a start to right living, but when we wonder ‘what should we do?’ in other situations, we have to learn to trust the One whoiswith us to guide us. Some people feel God with them, others don’t. Some are sure of their faith and others are not – but for everyone, taking the advice of John the Baptist, in practical actions that are a blessing to others, can be a way to keep that connection with God who is with us – whether we feel, or know it, or not.

Being human comes with a need to be reminded regularly that God is with us – when our tendency to independence takes us away from the Source of our being. There is a reason to stay connected to that Source for God is not only Love but also Life. And slowly but surely as we ‘bear fruit in keeping with repentance’ as John put it, our connection with God will begin to be felt or known by us – perhaps in a peace that shouldn’t logically be there, or in the way things work for good in surprising ways; it will be different for everyone.A lifetime after John’s instruction of the crowds, St Paul found himself needing to encourage the Christians in Philippi to see that God is with them – the Lord is near; Paul too giving some practical advice; actions that would lead to an increased awareness of God’s presence with them, as an inner peace.

Let’s hear those words and take them to heart now.

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