My children like to make fun of me as being a bit of a curmudgeon because I don’t like to sing Christmas songs in November, October or even September. We are now in Advent, that penitential season where we wait for the coming of our Lord, I will now allow myself a little hum along to “Ding Dong merrily on high”, eat some mince pies (I have got through too many already, have you seen how many calories are in them?) and we turn our face towards the East, looking back 2000 years to when a child changed the world and waiting to his glorious return.
Most of us, and I include myself in this, spend our time paying attention to the immediate, being satisfied once our urgent, obvious appetites are met, sleepwalking through our days, weeks and years not considering the big questions because they are too hard, too urgent, not urgent enough.
Advent calls to us to wake up from our slumber, to rise above mere existence and live life abundantly (John 10:10). We are called in Advent to wait in JOYFUL expectation for what comes next. It is time to Rise and Shine.
Whatever you do, whoever you meet, I hope you have a joyful and life-giving Advent.
Readings for Sunday 4th Dec
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
‘Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles,
and sing praises to your name’;
and again he says,
‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people’;
‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples praise him’;
and again Isaiah says,
‘The root of Jesse shall come,
the one who rises to rule the Gentiles;
in him the Gentiles shall hope.’
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 3: 1-12
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,
‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.” ’
Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’
Readings for the week
Monday 5th Dec – Isaiah 35, Luke 5: 17-26
Tuesday 6th – Isaiah 40: 1-11, Matthew 18: 12-14
Wednesday 7th – Isaiah 40: 25- end, Matthew 11: 28- end
Thursday 8th – Isaiah 41: 13-20, Matthew 11: 11-15
Friday 9th – Isaiah 48: 17-19, Matthew 11: 16-19
Saturday 10th – Ecclesiasticus 48: 1-4, 9-11, Matthew 17: 10-13