Forrest Hill Presbyterian Church


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8th December 2019

The German pastor, theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer had some piercing insights about how seriously we take our observance and remembering of the coming of Christ at Advent. In one sermon he says;

As Advent comes around again, we will probably sing a few Christmas carols at home with our children, rush around to by all our gifts, write a few Christmas cards, and the when all the office parties are over, we shall enter the land of fun and laughter, the land of Christmas. Our text today concerns the role of John the Baptist in the biblical narrative. His is the voice of one calling in the wilderness, as with the prophets of old. Prophets foretell but also tell forth, drawing people in to the good news of God, calling them to a time of preparation and repentance. It strikes me we are too busy to really experience what it is to be drawn into a time of preparation for the coming of God in Christ. We can be sucked into a vortex of shopping, eating and drinking. All of this is good, but when will we take a quiet moment to remember Jesus? What is our ability to be a prophetic voice in our own community? Perhaps the church can be this, I hope so. Bonhoeffer was a prophet for his generation of Germans, and his words still have effect. What I know of God is that God's mission proceeds with or without us. The Spirit moves where God wills in the world. Our faith is one of amazing grace, our righteousness comes not from ourselves but from Jesus. So yes, we can expect a prophetic, subversive word from the church. Let us be optimistic, enjoy the season, but remember the reason. More from Bonhoeffer: "He comes. Are you ready? There lies the shattering question with which the New Testament begins and ends, the only decisive question for the whole world and for the whole of our life. Are you ready for God?"