St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church had Reverend Gary Gooch as pastor on the Second Sunday of Advent. Neil Nichols served as the Lay Minister and John Greve and Jose Ramirez served as Lectors.
The First Reading was from the Apocrypha, Baruch 5:1-9. The people of Jerusalem are being told to prepare for the coming of God’s blessings of peace and glory. “For God will lead Israel with joy, in the light of his glory, with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.”
The Second Reading was Philippians 1:3-11. Paul writes them from prison and encourages them to love one another. He prays that they will gain knowledge and insight to help them in their decisions of life so when they meet Christ they may be pure and blameless. They need to prepare for the coming of Christ.
Reverend Gooch read the Gospel of Luke 3:1-6. John the Baptist was in the wilderness when he heard of Jesus beginning his ministry. He began preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins to prepare people to live as Jesus wanted them to. He traveled in all the regions to preach and baptize. He quoted the prophet Isaiah, “Prepare the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight…….and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
Reverend Gooch’s sermon focused on the topic of “preparation.” Everywhere we look today we see people preparing for Christmas. They are decorating, cooking, cleaning, and buying gifts. The Church is also preparing and it is called Advent. The church uses the purple colors for the altar cloths and hangings. A special Advent wreath and candles are used in the front of the congregation, and the Readings are full of verses of preparations for Christ.
John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ by preaching repentance and baptizing people. He revealed that one was coming who was much greater than he and would be everyone’s salvation. It was a time of waiting and preparing.
What would you do if someone very important was coming to visit you? Would you make a lot of preparations? There would be cleaning, baking, and preparing a guest room. What about preparing your heart for the coming of Christ? How would you prepare for that? Would you clean your heart of evil thoughts and grudges? Repentance and confession can cleanse our hearts of sin. However, it is not a onetime thing. It must be done again and again. Though we have good intentions to remain good, we always seem to slip and fall. Then again we must ask for forgiveness. Sometimes it may be major, sometimes minor, but we still need to confess and clean our minds and hearts. We must prepare ourselves to be open to Christ and know he will come in our lives.
Prepare you hearts so you may greet with joy the coming of Christ in your lives as human beings.
A special birthday blessing was said for Diane Greve. We want to remember Reverend Lloyd Johnson and Leslie Padgett in our prayers during their illnesses. We will resume our Bible Study class this Wednesday, Dec. 12 with Reverend Gary Gooch sitting in for Rev. Lloyd Johnson. A light supper will be at 6 p.m. and Bible Study starts at 6:30 p.m. We will now be meeting on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday s of each month. Members are requested to decide if they want to serve in one of the church ministries for tithing of their time and talents. The Bishop’s Committee and church members will meet and make decisions on these positions as soon as possible.