06 December 2020 is the Second Sunday of Advent, with Lectionary scriptures of Isaiah 40:1-11 and Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; and 2 Peter 3:8-15a and Mark 1:1-8.
Geoff’s sermon is based on the passages from Isaiah (Old Testament) and Mark (New Testament). The title of the section from Isaiah is Comfort for God’s People. The text from Mark’s Gospel – John the Baptist Prepares the Way – quotes some of Isaiah’s words. In this Advent season, we continue the theme of Preparation.
You will find the 4 Lectionary readings below, together with the audio sermon, prayers and a musical selection.
Isaiah 40:1-11 (New International Version)
Comfort for God’s People
40 Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
3 A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
6 A voice says, “Cry out.”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
“All people are like grass,
and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”
9 You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
1 You, Lord, showed favor to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
2 You forgave the iniquity of your people
and covered all their sins.
8 I will listen to what God the Lord says;
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
but let them not turn to folly.
9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
10 Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.
12 The Lord will indeed give what is good,
and our land will yield its harvest.
13 Righteousness goes before him
and prepares the way for his steps.
2 Peter 3:8-15
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
They will know that they have a prophet among them, whether they listen or whether in their rebelliousness they refuse to listen. Ezekiel 2:5
Lord God, your word is not distant, your love is not rationed, your grace is at hand, for you are present with your people as we call upon you. We come to bless you as our Creator. We come to honour you as our God. You are our heavenly Father, revealed through Jesus Christ Your Son, and we have come to delight in your word and be transformed by your love.
God of faithfulness and truth, you sent your servant John the Baptist to preach in the desert and summon people to repentance. Make us and all things new, that in the wilderness of our hearts we too may prepare a way over which your Son may walk. Our land needs you, because so many things are done wrongly, or not done at all. Our land needs you, because it is suffering from the way we mistreat your world and its people. Our land needs you, because without the knowledge of God there is poverty of spirit. And we need you. We inhabit this land, we share in its faults, we confess the sins and failures which have harmed others and harmed ourselves, and grieved your Spirit.
Have mercy on us, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Your salvation is at hand – may your Spirit bear witness with our spirits, that we belong to you, and that we are heirs to eternal life, through Jesus Christ. We bless you that this Jesus Christ is no mere formula of prayer, that the Word became flesh and lived among us, that your Son lives as our friend in heaven, that your Spirit is given to your people. Give us discernment of mind, that we understand your word. Give us discernment of heart, that we become tender towards you and other people. Give us discernment of life, that we take the right turnings and follow the right paths, in company with our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with Father and Spirit be glory and praise for ever. Amen
NOTE: The above audio is in mp3 format and is also downloadable, if you wish to listen at a time when you may not have a reliable internet connection. Other devices are available but, on a PC, for example, if you right-click on the 3 vertical dots at the right side of the audio player, the drop-down menu should offer the option to “Save as…”
Prayers of Intercession
Lord, we give you thanks that in the coming of Christ your steadfast love and faithfulness have met and your righteousness and peace have are united. May the gifts we offer this day lift up those in need and prepare the way of your salvation.
Lord God, as heralds of your good tidings, we lift up our voices with strength this day praying to the One who comforts, restores, and heals.
We pray for all leaders and people of the world. You have created one human family to live in righteousness and peace. Give us the wisdom to order our common life according to your loving purposes, that your glory may be revealed and all people shall see it together.
We pray for your church. You have given us the gift of the Messiah so that your church may be steadfast and true. Give us strength to follow your Son until all have come to repentance and are reconciled by his love.
We pray for those who are sick, who suffer need, who are exiled or in danger. You have made us for a holy purpose, to comfort and care for each other. Give us compassion to love our neighbour and patience to care for those in need.
We pray for your creation. Your faithfulness springs up from the ground, and your goodness looks down from the sky. Rid us of the laziness and greed that diminish life as you teach us to care for your creation together.
We remember those who have died. Ever-living God,
one day in your presence is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. Make us one with the saints, who have found their eternal home in you. We bring all our prayers in the name of Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together…..
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
Longing for light was written by Bernadette Farrell (b.1957) who is a Roman Catholic musician, hymn writer, and social activist. This hymn brings home the reality of how hard life is for so many people – those who are homeless, starving, lonely and in despair. We are all called to be lights in the darkness and we can truly make a difference by showing compassion and understanding to those in need.
Matthew 5:16: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Note: The Prayers of intercession are reprinted by permission of Westminster John Knox Press from Feasting on the Word Worship Companion. Copyright 2014 (adapted)