Summary: During this Advent Season we will not that faith does not have all the answers. Faith is a risk. Faith is a life of trust, not of cetainty and security.



This morning we will begin our ADVENT season and begin our journey leading to the celebration of the Birth of the Christ Child. The word ‘ADVENT’ is Latin for 'A COMING OR ARRIVAL'. The idea behind it is that God came to earthly life and lived among us, which is news to stop the presses for. It's something to CELEBRATE – REJOICE - because just by being in it, God was giving the supreme blessing to the created world. So we begin our four week journey anticipating the Coming or Arrival of the greatest news the world has ever received.

I will be the first to admit this morning – ADVENT HAS FALLEN ON HARD TIMES. The average church in America is no longer familiar with the Term. For most people, it's become a time to get ready for whatever you're doing with family and friends on Christmas, and not a time to get ready for the CHRIST CHILD. The bigger Christmas became, the more it swallowed up Advent. In fact, whatever Christmas thing we think of as being done before Christmas Day is actually done in ADVENT. In the US, everything after Thanksgiving is now seen as a part of Christmas. The main problem is not that Christmas intrudes on Advent or the other way around. The meaning of Advent is found in Christmas. The real problem is that people no longer keep their Christmas focus on Christ:

• Then Christless Christmas saps Christ from Advent

• Practicing Advent as a religious season may help recover Christmas

• But it can't do it by itself

• If you don't look to Jesus every day in every season, you'll lose Advent, Christmas, Lent, and even Easter

• It'll be a tiring rush, not a loving celebration

• It'll be about family or money or image and not our loving Maker

So Advent my Brothers and Sisters is a time of WAITING.

• Advent is a time of waiting and wondering

• Advent is a time of looking back and looking forward

• Advent is a time of hoping and searching

• Advent is the time of light shining in the darkness

• Advent is the time of peace overcoming conflict and war

• Advent is the time of warmth entering the cold of the world we live in

• Advent is a time of new beginnings – often small, but almost always significant

So today we begin our JOURNEY THROUGH ADVENT. The excitement starts building up. Four (4) weeks to go, and it is Christmas again. What a joy it will be to experience Christmas on a Sunday this year. Only true Believers will be able to appreciate this as it only comes around on a Sunday once every seven years. So many Church Folks will not even come to church on Christmas being on a Sunday this year. They will be too busy failing to remember the True REASON FOR THE SEASON. During this Advent season, we are reminded of all that still needs to be done.

• We make plans with friends and family

• We decorate our homes

• We take time to decorate the Sanctuary

• We have all these activities actually because we are called to recall what this season is about

• Joy - Peace - Light - Happiness

In a strange sort of way, I believe that something like that was running through John's mind as he sat in that prison. God’s people had gone through a rather long WAITING PERIOD. He and his people had hoped and prayed for years for a Messiah, one anointed by God to lead the nation, a deliverer who would VANQUISH OCCUPYING FORCES - conquer all enemies, establish a great kingdom, and usher in an era of PEACE and PROSPERITY. In time past, and not that long ago, John had come to believe that the prayers had been answered. The Messiah was none other than his own cousin, Jesus of Nazareth.

Let’s FAST FORWARD to our text. John, whom we refer to as the Baptist or the Baptizer had a Powerful ministry for a few years. Then he was ARRESTED. Even though he located himself out in the wilderness near the Jordan, great crowds came to hear him. When you have a message, the people will come, as long as the message is from God. He had powerful words for the audiences for their need for REPENTANCE from sin and right living. He certainly refused to mince words - he was ABRASIVE – INSULTING – ALMOST MEAN AT TIMES. And that is not to mention the wild hair and strange clothes. And what is with the diet of locusts and wild honey?

• Still, all sorts of people had come to hear his preaching

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