‘I baptise you with water to show that you have repented, but the one who will come after me will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is much greater than I am; and I am not good enough even to carry his sandals. He has his winnowing shovel with him to thresh out all the grain. He will gather his wheat into his barn, but he will burn the chaff in a fire that never goes out.’ (verses 11,12)
Read Matthew 3:1-12
What an eccentric character John appears in our eyes: clothes of camel’s hair, living on locusts and wild honey, preaching a message of punishment for those who did not repent. John was the one who was sent to prepare the way for Jesus, and the people flocked to hear him.
John’s call for repentance is a reminder that Advent is a time to prepare for the festival of Christmas. Part of our preparation involves looking at our lives and recognising that we need a saviour. Without this preparation it is too easy for us to hear the story of the birth of Jesus simply as a story, whereas it is in fact an account of the time that God stepped into history, lived as one of us and died for us.
In the countdown before Christmas let’s take some time out from the hustle and bustle, the presents and parties, to prepare ourselves. God entered this world for you, and he wants you to be ready to celebrate.
Slow me down, Lord. Help me to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, so that I may be ready to receive its message with joy. Amen.
by Anne Maczkowiack in ‘Renewed Hope for each Day’ (LCA, Openbook, 2000)
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