Advent 3

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Sermon: 

Good morning. My name is the Reverend Jonathan Kimber, and I serve the diocese as the Director of Ministry and Discipleship, based at the Diocesan Office. At the end of today’s short address, I have included two questions for reflection or discussion.

It was the summer of 2006. It was about a year since I’d finished my curacy, and now I was a young-ish vicar, ministering in a church serving a large suburb of Northampton. Just one church, but 25,000 souls. I was glad to be where I was, but that number, 25,000, was weighing on my shoulders. I was feeling overburdened with a sense of responsibility, and it was getting me down. In fact, I had been suffering with low grade ill health for several months. It was then that something remarkable happened.

I had walked, wearing my dog collar, the three minutes up to the local shops – quite slowly, as I wasn’t feeling great – to catch the lunchtime post. The walk back passed the local pub on the corner. One of their regular clientele was seated at a table outside. It was very clear that he had given the pub quite a lot of business that day already.

As I neared the corner, he looked me straight in the eye, and addressed me directly. I can still remember what he said:

“Do you think you’re going to save them all? Do you? You’re not the messiah, you know!”

You’re not the messiah. It was a remarkable experience. And it was just what I needed to hear. I wasn’t going to save anybody. I’m not the messiah.

To be clear, it’s not that I thought I was the messiah. And yet, I was carrying some of the burden that is only God’s to carry. My new friend’s comments helped make that crystal clear.

And so to our Gospel reading, from John’s gospel, the first chapter. Here we meet the remarkable John the Baptist. He was not the promised messiah, the one who would be the saviour. About that he was very clear.

So who was he? Did he have a role? Was there a part for him to play?

There certainly was! He himself was not the light, but he came to point people to the light.

He himself was not the messiah, but he came to point people to Jesus.

We can easily drift off in one direction or another. Sometimes, as with me then, we can end up feeling more responsible, or important, than we actually are. To be brought back down is actually a relief (though our pride may sometimes disagree).

Perhaps many of us tend in the other direction. We assume that we’re not important enough, or clever enough, or good enough with words, or whatever. We assume that it’s only other people that God ever uses.

But no! That’s not right either. God has a part for each of us to play. All our parts are different, and all our parts are vital. For most of us, our role develops and changes over the years – though it can be tempting to stick with what’s familiar.

For all of us, the central starting point is to be someone who looks towards the light. Someone whose life is centred on God, and on God’s son Jesus Christ.

First and foremost we receive from God, through God’s Holy Spirit.

And what we have received – the light, the life and the love – then can’t help shining forth.

One of my favourite verses from the Psalms puts it like this: Look to him, and be radiant. As we look to the one who is the light, that reflected light will bring healing and sustenance to us. And we may not realise it, but we will increasingly be radiant. From us will shine out God’s healing and sustaining life and love.

This Advent, don’t worry about what you’re not. Focus on who you are, and who you are called to be. May you know Christ’s light in the darkness. And may Christ’s light be radiant from the core of your being.

Questions:

  1. What helps you receive the light and life of God?
  2. How would it feel to be someone in whom others glimpse the light of Christ?

 


Page last updated: 4th December 2020 10:57 AM
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