Second Sunday of Advent-A
Isaiah 30:19, 30
It is not always easy getting ready for Christmas, is it? As wonderful as the season is, it still takes a lot of work. That is why the words of John the Baptist to us today are so important, so that we don’t miss out on what we are really getting ready for. He says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
There are three questions that follow from John’s words that I would like to place before all of us who are busy getting ready for Christmas.
The first one is: Is there something in my life right now that needs some adjustment, some change, to be ready for the birthday of Jesus? “Repent,” John the Baptist says, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
There is a story about two friends: one lived his whole life in the city and the other in the desert. The city-friend regularly went out to the desert to visit but the desert-friend had never accepted an invitation to come to the city…until now.
Well, on his journey to the city, he came upon a set of railroad tracks and he wondered what they were for. And then a train came roaring by with whistles blaring, and the desert-fellow was darned scared. When he finally calmed down, he followed the directions and arrived at his city-friend’s home, where a Christmas party was in full-swing.
He began exploring the house which was filled with so many things he had never seen before. He entered the kitchen and was fascinated by the appliances when, all of a sudden, the tea kettle on the stove began to whistle. He had a scary flashback of his encounter with the train. So he went through the kitchen drawers and found a hammer and began beating the living daylights out of that tea kettle.
Just then his city-friend walked in and asked what in the world he was doing. And the desert-friend answered, “Sometimes you gotta kill these things while they are still small!”
Well, within this silly story, there is a lesson about sin. We have to root out sin early on or it can quickly grow and take charge of our lives. And so John the Baptist tells us, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Is there something in my life right now that needs some adjustment, some change, to be ready for the birthday of Jesus?
The second question is: Is there somebody to whom I should be extending my hand? Repentance is not only turning away from sin but it is also turning towards God and towards each other.
Rob lived on a farm and the cows needed to be milked early each morning. His dad would wake him at 4:00 AM and they would go out to the barn together. Rob really didn’t mind doing this, although he did sometimes wish the cows would sleep-in a bit on the weekends.
Early one morning he heard his dad telling his mom in the hallway how much he appreciated Rob’s help and that he really looked forward to their time together.
Rob was very touched because he knew that his mom and dad loved him, but they found it difficult to say so. [Sometimes people can love each other very much but just can’t say, “I love you.”]
Rob had been trying to figure out what he would give his dad for Christmas, and this gave him an idea. He decided that, on Christmas morning, he would get up extra-early and milk the cows all by himself. And he did. When his dad knocked on his door at the usual time, Rob told him that he would be right there to meet him in the barn. His dad came back from the barn a short time later with tears in his eyes. He knew that Rob loved him, but they had not told each other this in a long time. Early that Christmas morning, Rob and his dad hugged and told each other, “I love you.”
Rob gave his dad a gift that didn’t cost a penny, but was priceless. He gave his dad the gift of his love.
During this second week of Advent, as we look into our hearts: Is there something in my life right now that needs some adjustment, some change, to be ready for the birthday of Jesus? Is there somebody to whom I should be extending my hand?
And the third question is: Have I truly allowed Jesus to take up residence in my heart? Because isn’t this the reason that we do all the things we do this time of year?
Jeannie Wilson tells about having a rough Christmas, when she just couldn’t get in the mood. [Maybe some of you are there right now.] But she needed to provide a good Christmas for her family. So she went to the mall.
She wandered up and down the aisles, not finding anything that interested her, because she just wasn’t in the mood. And then, up ahead of her, she saw that some figures of a Nativity set had fallen to the floor and a little girl had picked up the Christ Child.
The girl asked her mother, “Mommy, would you please buy this for me?” Then Jeannie heard the mother tell her that, as much as she would like to, she just couldn’t afford it. She hugged her daughter and her daughter said, “It’s all right, Mommy. My teacher told me that Jesus really lives in my heart.”
As the mother and daughter moved along Jeannie picked up the whole Nativity set, paid for it, and then said to the cashier: “Would you please give this to that little girl who is leaving the store right now with her mother?”
Jeannie says that on the mantle in her home today is an identical Nativity set that she bought in that same store where she couldn’t get in the mood for Christmas. But there is no manger. If you ask Jeannie why, she will answer, “Because Jesus really lives in my heart.”
It is not always easy getting ready for Christmas. But on this Second Sunday of Advent, the words of John the Baptist help us to look in the right direction: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Is there something in my life right now that needs some adjustment, some change, to be ready for the birthday of Jesus? Is there somebody to whom I should be extending my hand? Have I truly allowed Jesus to take up residence in my heart?
Because if we do, no matter how far behind we are with our holiday preparations, we will truly be ready for Christmas, the birthday of Jesus,