West Point Grey United Church
Dec 10, 2023


Mark 1:1–8

The prophet Isaiah said “  Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts”. And it shall be said “Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every obstruction from my people’s way”.

Several hundred years later the Hebrew people were still waiting, when John the Baptist appeared proclaiming the same message. “Prepare the way of the Lord and make his paths straight.” John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside were going out to him being baptized in the river Jordan. And John proclaimed “the one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

On this second Sunday in Advent, all around the world, instead of a focus on Christmas bells and decorating for Christmas, Christians are reading and learning from the story of John the Baptist. Mark’s Gospel begins to tell the Good News of Jesus with Jesus’ cousin John. We are being encouraged to remove from our own lives those things that are like road blocks, preventing us from receiving the Good News of the birth of Jesus. What are the things we have said and done that have hurt others? What are the opportunities to help others that we have walked away from? What are the regrets, guilt and pain that distract us from living as the disciple Jesus called us to be ?

Advent is a time for us to clear our path of all the things that cause us to stumble. We want to clear the way so that God can touch our hearts and lives in meaningful and life-changing ways. The season of Christmas is about transformation! Advent is making sure we are ready for it!

Advent is a time when we can clearly experience not just HOPE, but also PEACE. A peace that we can experience when the path before us has been cleared of all the burdens  and worries we have been carrying, all the regrets for our mistakes and shortcomings that weigh heavily on our hearts.

Remember …. If you are feeling guilt, God will forgive you.

If you are mourning the loss of a loved one, God will comfort you.

If you are weary and tired, God will rejuvenate you.

If you are distracted, God will help you focus.

So ….. open your heart, mind, spirit and life to God, clear the path of obstacles, and you will never be the same.

This is the promise of John the Baptizer. This is the gift of Jesus.

May God be with you in this Advent season of preparation in meaningful and powerful ways. And may you experience his extraordinary hope, peace, joy and love in your heart always.  Amen.