Pew Sermon for Sunday 28th November

Hello again everyone.

Be alert! We need more lerts! So runs an old bumper sticker. But – as I never tire of saying – at the heart of all good humour lies a serious truth.

Advent is not only about Incarnation. It is about Christ’s second coming. And it’s a bit black and white. There will be a reckoning – so we need to get our personal houses in order – but there will also be joy and salvation for those who believe, and find Him in the waiting.

How many sermons have you heard on being alert? And what might being alert involve in Gospel terms? Tricky, isn’t it?

My wife would love me to be more alert when she says something. Apparently, she has told me the essential, inaudible ‘something’ loud and clear, many times, but whatever it was, it did not get heard. We have had this conversation for 38 years. I even got a Boots hearing aid test done recently to help my side of the argument. But alas, alertness – in that case – paying full and proper attention to the most important person in my life – somehow escapes me…

Greta Thunberg would LOVE us to be more alert to the climate crisis. But (in my opinion – and please do chat with me if I am wrong!) she prosecutes her case with as much anger as argument – and the danger is that she and her supporters might stop listening; stop being alert to others, even as she criticises Governments for doing exactly the same thing.

Many in the country would love us to be more alert to the refugee crisis. We can debate the pros and cons of economic migration – it’s a complex argument. But the Bible is clear – we MUST have compassion for the widow, the orphan and the stranger. We must find a way to deal more kindly with those miserable unfortunates in those French migration camps. Exactly how, I am unsure. But anyone with any spark of compassion feels miserable at their impoverished state, their daily life and death existence, and at the occasional harshness of the authorities. I also was a refugee when I came to the UK (albeit as an embryo!). Thank God (and I mean that reverently) someone let me in.

Of course, climate and migration are just two of the deeply controversial and difficult issues in our newspapers. There are many other causes to be concerned about; to support or oppose; over which to give, or withhold, time, money and energy.

So, how? How are we to be alert this Advent? How do we watch and wait, and pray, and maybe even fast, looking forward to Jesus’ coming? Both in this world, and heralding the next? How to we get prepared, get ready, get our houses in order, as He requires?

Compassion, I think. So often the missing ingredient. Let us approach all these difficult issues – and each other – with the love of Christ. And he will keep us safe, and alert to His plans and purposes.

Our job is to watch and wait. With compassion.

May God be close to us at this time, and bring us great blessing, as we do so.