St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church had Reverend Gina Frnka as pastor on the Third Sunday of Advent. Neil Nichols served as the Lay Minister and John Greve served as Lector.
The First Reading was Zephaniah 3:14-20. The people of Israel are being told that God has come to bless them. They are told not to fear for they will be saved from their enemies and He will restore their fortunes.
The Second Reading was Philippians 4:4-7. The theme here is to “rejoice.” They are told that the Lord is near. Through prayer they are to make known their requests to God and he will give them peace. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Reverend Frnka read the Gospel of Luke 3:7-18. This passage continues the work of John the Baptist in preparing for Christ’s ministry. John emphasizes the importance of confession and repentance. He warns them that being descendants of Abraham is not enough to enter the Kingdom of God. They were all eager to know what they should do. He told them about sharing what they had with others in need and being honest and fair with one another. John explained that he baptizes them with water for their repentance of sins, but Christ would baptize them with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Reverend Frnka related that an angel had prophesized that John would come before the Messiah and prepare the people. She explained how John the Baptist called for a change of heart and behavior, not just complete a rite. It was not just intentions of being good, but a change that shows in one’s attitude and behavior. Being chosen as God’s people through Abraham is not enough. Salvation is for everyone who accepts Jesus as the Messiah. John also warns them in the parable of cutting down fruit trees which did not bear fruit and tossing them into the fire. The separating of the wheat from the chaff and burning the chaff was another example of what Christ will do in his coming. The primary aim is to safe the wheat, not burn the chaff.
We are called to submit to God, confess, and ask for forgiveness. True repentance will show a change in one’s heart and daily living behaviors. John prepared them to ready their hearts and minds to be able to receive and accept the Holy Spirit which God will leave with them.
One cannot truly receive Christ and the Holy Spirit until he confesses his wrongs and repents of them. We do not feel worthy in our minds and know in our hearts we have done wrong things. However, it is through Jesus Christ that we find forgiveness and strength to change our ways and live for him.
The bountiful grace of Christ will deliver us. With Him in our hearts, we anxiously wait for Christmas.
St. Matthew’s will have a Christmas Eve service at 7:30 p.m. We invite all to join us in our celebration of Christ’s birth.
A special birthday blessing was said for Arthur Clark. We will not have Bible Study until the beginning of the year.