Psalm 122, Isaiah 2:1-5, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44
In my youth I was never a Boy Scout, or a Girl Guide for that matter, but I am sure we all know the Boy Scout motto ‘Be Prepared’. In 1907 Baden-Powell devised the Scout motto, and later wrote in ‘Scouting for Boys’, that to ‘Be Prepared’ means, “you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty”.
Today we start the season of Advent, and the start of a new church year, when we leave Luke’s Gospel and begin Matthew’s Gospel, a reading from which we have just heard. Advent is very much a season of preparation, a period, or time for us to ‘take stock’ of where we are as Christians and where we are within our own churches. We as a church have just run a Stewardship campaign when we have been asked to think more closely about how each and every one of us can contribute to the running and well being of our church here in Kew.
Now with the start of Advent and a four week course that started on Thursday 24th of this month and continues for the next three Thursdays, we can begin to reflect on our own preparations for the birth of that baby in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago, and also how ready we are today for His coming again.
‘Jesus spoke to his disciples: 'About that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father' ….. ‘Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour’.
It is of course very easy to become entangled with the coming of Christmas, the cards to write, the presents to buy, the decorations to put up, the turkey, or equivalent, to order and all the trimmings! Well, isn’t that what Christmas is all about, and in so many cases this year how many will really be able to afford it, or have a warm and safe home in which to enjoy it?
So perhaps we can ask ourselves the question, ‘Where was the Christ Child born?’, no warm safe house for him, or Mary and Joseph, no sparkling lights on a Christmas tree, just a bright guiding light in the sky. No party friends for canapés and wine, just poor shepherds from the nearby land. When three presents did eventually arrive, they were not your usual baby gifts but gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Paul in his letter to the Romans, again gave warning to those he wrote to, do not let the temptations of the present day cause you to loose sight of what and who is again going to come. As Tom Wright wrote in his Lectionary Reflections: “Paul saw his own mission to the Gentiles as the fulfilment of Isaiah’s promise: the nations were already coming in to God’s people, to hear the message of salvation that the creator God had entrusted to the Jews, and had fulfilled in the Jewish Messiah. Isaiah’s promise of universal peace must therefore be read, like Paul’s call to personal holiness, as our present agenda. We must neither look helplessly at a dark and sleeping world, nor think complacently that we, the church, are all right as we are. We must wake people up to the fact that the sun is already shining, and that the judge of the nations is at the door, longing to see his justice and peace enfold the world in a single embrace.”
What a wonderful picture of what our world should be, if only we all woke up to the love and hope that the Christ Child brought into the world, and what should be, more than ever in the world today the true meaning of Christmas.
So perhaps as we travel through this season of Advent we can take some time, away from the usual ‘hustle and bustle’ of Christmas preparations, to think of what should be the true and real meaning of the Christmas story, and to ‘be prepared’ to once again welcome the Christ Child into our lives and world.