December 5, 2021: Sermon Preached by The Rev. Katie Holicky, Assistant Rector

Year C, Advent 2 (Life Together Worship) Rev. Katie Holicky, Assistant Rector

Friends, today we find ourselves in the second Sunday of Advent. All of you heard me talk last week about how this is a season for us to prepare our hearts, minds, and bodies to welcome Jesus at Christmas. It is an exciting time of year filled with many activities and celebrations! And it can sometimes be hard for us to remember to take the time and slow down to prepare for Jesus. Today, I wanted to show you something that helped me to remember that this week. (hold up red felted cardinal ornament)

Every year for my ENTIRE life my mom has given me a new Christmas ornament. Since Phil and I have lived in New England, my mom carefully wraps and ships my annual ornament, so that it arrives right about the time we are setting up our Christmas tree. I can tell she takes time to find ones she knows I will love and that will fit in with our woodland themed tree. A theme that her mom, my grandma, used for her tree as well. Filled with ornaments of little woodland critters, red balls, and wooden garland beads that resemble cranberries. 

For the last few years, knowing my deep love of cardinals as a sign of the Holy Spirit in my life, she has sent me a cardinal ornament. Cardinals now rest on many branches of our Christmas tree. Each year I am touched by the way the love of my mom reminds me of the love of Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mom, and Mary, Jesus’ mom. Tenderly caring for their child and affirming who they are called to be in the world. In a way, every year my mom sends me an ornament, she not just decks the halls of our home, she decks the halls of my heart.  And she reminds me of the many ways we are invited as Christians to prepare for Christmas.

And that is why we are spending time with John the Baptist today! He too reminds us to get ready! Some believe that this part of chapter three that Mary Lee just read is the original start of this Gospel, and that the first two chapters were added in later (JANT, 104). That is a powerful message. To start with the story of John’s baptism of repentance, of saying sorrying, and especially as one of public witnesses. Doing this in front of people was a way to show publicly his commitment to preparing for the ways Jesus will surely change the world (JANT, 104). John the Baptist knew the importance of turning our hearts and lives back to God as a way to “prepare the way of the Lord”. 

John invites us to take a look at ourselves and the world around us and to notice the mistakes or sins that strain our hearts and relationships. The very things that God is in the business of healing. And John knows it! He knows that God’s love and grace are for everyone, and that is why he can be about the business of proclaiming. Just like each of us can! John’s work helps us to know that Jesus, the human presence of God in the world, is about to come and be with us. And that in doing so, nothing will ever be the same. So much so that we will even have a hard time imagining it… “mountains and hills shall be made low, crooked shall be made straight, rough ways made smooth”. 

Every year John the Baptist comes to us reminding us to prepare for Jesus when we begin to get busy preparing our homes, for parties, shopping for gifts. Many of the things that we enjoy about the holidays, but also the very things might busy our hearts and minds and keep us from thinking about how we prepare for Jesus. John the Baptist may not be inviting us this week to deck the halls. Though he is reminding us that God’s love is about to come into the world in a new way and we better get ready! So, as you prepare this holiday season, may you be on the lookout for God coming into the world. And may you too deck the halls of your heart with God’s love and grace.

Resources: Jewish Annotated New Testament