Prepare the way

Sermon for Advent 2 with baptism in St James Colwall

Philippians 1: 3-11; Luke 3: 1-6

To listen to the recording of the sermon as you read:

Earlier this week we spent a couple of days in Milton Keynes.  It was good.  The roads were straight, the road surfaces were good, it was spacious, and not noticeably hilly.  We had a nice time there. Nevertheless we were happy to come home to Colwall, of which none of those things can be said.  But we love its bendy bumpy roads and of course, we adore the hills.

So what’s all this we heard about
making straight paths, Every valley being filled in,
    every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads becoming straight, and
    the rough ways smooth?

Well of course, it’s not an invitation to bulldoze the countryside, it’s symbolic.  This passage which we associate with John the Baptist occurs almost word for word on two earlier occasions in the bible.  And interestingly, on one of these occasions it’s speaking about the need for God’s people to prepare their hearts and minds to receive him and on the other occasion it is speaking about God himself reaching out and preparing a way for his people to come to him.  So the way of the Lord is a two way street.  God has reached out to us by sending his Son, Jesus Christ. We in turn can approach him through faith in that same Jesus and in doing so we become a member of God’s family, one of his people.

Remember - you’re a member!

I thank my God every time I remember you.  So said the apostle Paul in that reading we heard from his letter to the church in Philippi.  Isn’t that a lovely thing to be able to say? I thank my God every time I remember you.

This morning we’ve had the great pleasure of welcoming baby Russell and his family into our fellowship here in Colwall.  And in this baptism service we have been given the opportunity to remember that we too, or most of us I imagine, were once baptised, though we may well have been far too young to remember it and in many cases it was quite a long time ago. But it has given us this opportunity to remember and recommit to those baptismal vows made on our behalf.

Re-member. Said like that it speaks of something a bit more than just remembering something, bringing it casually to mind before moving on to the next thing.  It speaks of being together as members of God’s family.  God’s family rejoicing that God has remembered us as we join together to remember God. And rejoicing that he has made a way for us to come to him.

I suppose it can be said that most church services perform that function but a baptism service does it more than most. It recommits us to each other and to the way of the Lord.  So may it be said of us that we thank God every time we remember one another because we are all members of God’s family.  Remember you’re a member!