Isaiah 10:1-11; Matthew 3:1-12

2nd Sunday of Advent

St Barbara’s; 4.12.16

Rev Tulo Raistrick

At school you may remember being taught grammar and having to learn your different tenses. For some of us, just the thought may cause us to come out in a cold sweat.

In our Christingle service later this morning we will be thinking about the three important tenses of Advent, for Advent prompts us to look to the past, to the future and to the present.

Advent is a time of waiting. But how do you wait for something that has already happened? You don’t stay standing at a bus stop waiting for a bus when the last one for the day has gone.

But in Advent we do a different kind of waiting. We wait to celebrate something that has already happened.

Just a few weeks ago there were big celebrations to mark the battle of Hastings and 1066, 950 years ago. But people didn’t say last year, well it happened almost 950 years ago, I’m tired of waiting, lets just celebrate now. They waited, they got ready, they got all prepared, and then had a big celebration on the day itself.

Advent is about waiting, getting ourselves ready to celebrate, and not just celebrate an event in history, but the most amazing event in all of history.

As John the Baptist put it, “The kingdom of heaven is near. There is one coming who will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” The creator of heaven and earth, the one who spoke the world into being, has become flesh and dwelt among us.

Advent is a time when we prepare to celebrate that most amazing truth.

Advent also helps us to wait for something in the future.

I wonder, have you ever waited for something so long you’ve wondered whether it will ever happen?

Many sports fans wait season after season wondering “will my team ever win the league?” It can feel like a very long wait.

But waiting for something for 2,000 years? That’s how long the church has been waiting for Jesus to come back

But Jesus tells us it is how we wait, not when the wait will be over, that matters. Are we ready? Are we hoping for him to come?

We heard in our gospel reading last week how he will come like a thief in the night, when he is not expected.

Advent reminds us that we are to live being ready for Jesus to come anytime: living a good life, loving and caring for others, worshipping God, so that we are ready for him. That’s why we pray in one of our Advent prayers: “Watching, waiting, help us to be ready for you Jesus.”

Not only are we to be ready for him, we are to want Jesus to come again. In Advent, we also pray ”Maranatha – Come Lord Jesus”.

Why? Because when Jesus comes he will bring an end to injustice and suffering. He will bring healing and light. As our reading from Isaiah reminds us, his kingdom will bring justice and peace for the poor of the earth; the lion will lie down with the lamb.

And thirdly, Advent is a time of the present, when we recognise that Christ is with us now. That’s important to remember, because sometimes the build-up to Christmas is not always easy.

It is a time that prompts us to remember those whom we love but who are no longer with us; its a time when we may be conscious for ourselves, or for others, of financial hardships, or relationship tensions; its a time when we can feel bowed down under the pressure of feeling there is so much to get done.

It is important to know that Christ is among us now. He brings his peace, his hope, his light, his joy, to us now.

He says to each one of us:

Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Jesus is with us now. He is the light in the darkness. It is his light which shines and gives us hope.