Readings for this week are
Last week's Advent 1 readings were about warnings of the End Times - a reminder that God is in charge of human history, and that the coming of Jesus is part of a larger plan. Advent has a timeless quality, in that it relates to then (the birth of Christ), now (our preparations) and what is to come (God's unfolding plan & eventual kingdom in its fulness).
Although (due to St Andrew) I didn't have to preach on it, I tried to think about it, as part of celebrating the whole of Advent.
This week I'm not preaching at all (due to some social plans - but also a welcome deep breath before the hectic next few weeks), but again I have wanted to think about Advent 2 as a part of the whole.
So Malachi reminds us of the astringent nature of God's message and God's messenger - Refiner's fire & fuller's soap.
Luke's gospel tells us of the coming of John the Baptist - possibly a man in need of soap, by all accounts, but certainly astringent & ascetic. No wonder poor J the B never makes it onto any Christmas cards!
I find these two readings a refreshing change from the syrupy 'soft soap' of much of the Christmas hype. Christmas as a time for gladness and joy is of course right - but it is also a time for reflection, change, challenge.
This advent I have been leading the Godly Play Advent stories as part of a short reflection each week. This talks of 'getting ready to enter the mystery of Christmas' - and whilst the 'to do' list seems horrendously long, I feel spiritually more clam and ready this year than for a long time.
The Philippians reading is a very positive outpouring of appreciation for the good news the church at Philippi have proclaimed - maybe if we can preach a message that cuts through some of the syrup to the reality of God with us the world will feel as grateful for our message.
The other advantage of not having to prepare worship for this week - I can try to get ahead on the remaining services before and including Christmas day. 'May hope keep you joyful' (Romans 12:12) keeps ringing in my ears!