Sunday 4 December 2022. Sermon is by Revd Bruce Woolley

Liturgy for Services:

The full Service Slides, including the hymns, readings, prayers, other liturgy and notices may be found on our website.

Advanced Notices:

After a two year break, we will again hold a Christmas Eve service, starting at 10.30.p.m. Our New Year’s Eve service is at 6pm.

Diocesan Office Closure:

From 19 December to 2 January

Ordination Services:

These will take place on Saturday 10 December at 9.30 at the Cathedral and on 14 December at 15h30, Woodlands. The names of those to be
ordained are on the notice board.

Lectionaries for sale:

These are available at services and from the parish office at
R35 each.

Vestry Reports:

These are to be submitted to the parish office by 15 December.

Soup Kitchen Christmas Party:

This will be held on 14 December

Vestry:

This meeting will be held to approve the signed Annual Financial
Statements and the appointment of a new auditor. The vestry will take place after the
9.15 service on 11 December.

Important dates for Guilds for 2023:

We ask all guilds to submit their plans/important dates for 2023 to the Church office for planning purposes.

Obituary:

Normal Raynard and Gifford Sparks, members of St. Paul’s, passed away
this past week.

Staff appreciation for December:

Any form of donation in cash or kind to our dedicated church workers.

Thanks and appreciation:

Dolly Ndlovu Biscuits and lighters
Mrs. Soni Candle stand for Advent wreath
Anon for staff Appreciation (R300)
Lethu Mkhize, Judo Saane, Mpumelelo Mtshawu & Egerton Hingston Microwave
and Electric Iron for church use

Thanksgiving Soni Family (R1,000); Anon (200); Anon (200); Wimbayi Chisayi
(R1,000); Lindiswa (R1,000)
Bomi Nomlala – Box of incense, Priest wafers, people wafers, crate of wine.
Mam Jabu, Molly and Nokukhanya for arranging flowers for Joyce’s funeral and
Linn for organising the eats.

Birthdays: 4 to 10 December

5 Ndabenhle Mhlongo, Ken Tafa
6 William Ojur
8 Dintle Heart Moshesh, Revd Thami Tembe, Buhle Dolly Ndlovu
10 Songe Ndzimande
Wedding anniversary 4 to 10 December
10 Basil & Ethne Ogle

https://youtu.be/ucvuDxOY-l4

Sermon by Revd Bruce Woolley Matthew 3:1-12

Growing in Love as we Wait for Christ’s Return

John the Baptist assumes the role of Herald

Holy Spirit, Guide me as I speak your Word, Use me as I glorify your name. Amen

1. A Time of Preparation

December has to be, by far, the craziest month of the year wouldn’t you agree? If someone from another planet were to come and watch our world during this month, that visitor would conclude that we have completely lost our minds. Why is this month so crazy? It’s because we are preparing, aren’t we? As the husband balances dangerously on his ladder, hanging the Christmas lights in just the right place he’s preparing. As men and
women hit the shopping malls very intensely and aggressively they’re preparing.

As houses become filled with the smell of baking Christmas cakes, and radio stations change around their programming to include old, nostalgic songs about reindeer and Father Christmas people are preparing, because soon, it will be Christmas time.

December is a month of preparation. In the church year, we are also in a season of preparation called “Advent.” Advent is a Latin word which means “approach” or “arrival.” Advent is that time of the year when we prepare for the arrival of Christ. We prepare to celebrate his first arrival, his humble, quiet birth in Bethlehem. But we’re also preparing for his second arrival, when Christ will come in all of his majesty, with the loud, trumpet call of
God on Judgment Day.

This month of December is the season of Advent for us as Christians. In the same way that we do all kinds of physical things to prepare for Christmas, we also do spiritual things to prepare ourselves for Christ. It’s easy to prepare for the holiday of Christmas – just look at what other people are doing you’ll figure it out. But how do you prepare for Christ? It’s a mystery for many people. If you look at the title of our sermon for today, I think it reflects how many people are at this time of the year. “I am ready for Christmas! But ready for Christ?

What does that mean?

2. John the Baptist

There is someone who teaches you how to do this, and he appears every December. No, it’s not Rudolph or Frosty or Santa it’s “John the Baptist.” He was called that not because he was the founder of the Baptist church. Far from it John held his “services” in the desert –
no chairs, no heater, no robe with decorations his church was out in the desert, by the Jordan River. And what did he talk about out there? Look at verse 3: “He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” He was called the “Baptist” because he encouraged people to be baptized. And, he encouraged people to repent.

3. Locusts and Honey

Do you know what John the Baptist ate?? Locusts! Does anybody know what a locust is? And do you know what he drank? Honey!!

John the Baptist

But let’s get back to John the Baptist. This wasn’t his idea. This was his destiny – this was God’s purpose for his life – John was spoken about hundreds of years before he lived, as it says in verse 4: “As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: A voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord.” John had been called by God to prepare people for the arrival of the Messiah Jesus Christ was about to start his public ministry, and John was preparing people, getting them ready. He did that by teaching the people to repent, or ask forgiveness for their sins.

4. A Time of Repentance

Do you know what it means to “repent”? To “repent” means to make a U-turn, to change direction. John was telling the people to change the direction of their lives. They were going one way, unprepared for Christ. John told them to turn their lives around and go the other way.

This, my friends, is how you can prepare for Christ too. Repent. Think of repentance this way first you identify, and then, you do the opposite. First, you identify what is sinful in your life. This will take some quiet time on your part. Turn off the TV, the radio in your car. Shut down the internet. Take a break from shopping and decorating. And just sit, and think, and identify the weaknesses in your life. What is your weakness, your sin? Are you materialistic? Do you like to be surrounded by things? Are you selfish? Do you have impure, immoral thoughts? Are you impatient with others? Do you say things about other people that you really shouldn’t say? What are your sins? Identify them. This is the first part of repentance. And
then the secondly, do the opposite. Instead of being materialistic, be spiritual. Instead of being selfish, be generous. Instead of being immoral, strive to be pure in your mind. Do the opposite. Change direction in your life. Make a U-turn. That’s repentance.

5. The Most Important Thing

But!!! I left out the most important thing. Do you know what that is? Without this thing, you’ll never successfully change in your life. You’ll try, and maybe you’ll be successful for a while. But without the most important thing, you’ll eventually fall back into your old ways, just like someone on a crash diet who eventually gains all the weight back. Do you know what the most important part of repentance is?

It is Christ. Without Christ, true repentance is impossible, and you will never change. But with Christ, anything is possible. After you identify your sins, take them to Christ. Take them to the foot of the cross. As someone once said, “When your soul has laid down its faults at the feet of Christ, you feel as though you have wings.” Confess your shortcomings to Christ. And then rejoice, because he forgives you all of your sins. “I forgive you,” Christ says. “I died on the cross for all those faults you have. I was punished for your weaknesses. I forgive you.”

And that is when you experience real Christian joy. And as Christ forgives you, he also gives you strength. If you want to make changes in your life, Christ will give you the strength you need. As Philippians chapter four says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

If you want to stop being so materialistic (that means liking toys, Xboxes, cars, etc.), and instead, be more spiritual, Christ will give you the strength to do that. If you want to stop being selfish, and instead, be generous, Christ will strengthen you. If you want to stop being immoral in your thoughts, and instead, be pure, Christ will help you. If you want to be more loving, more patient, more kind, then do this – take your sins to Christ, confess them. Let him forgive you. And as he forgives you, he will strengthen you to be a brand new person. That’s repentance. That’s what John the Baptist was talking about in the desert. John pointed the people to Christ as he talked about it in today’s Gospel. “All mankind will see God’s salvation.” Christ is God’s salvation. Where can you go today and see him?

On Christmas Eve, the shepherds found him in the most unusual place not a palace, not a throne. But a humble stable. And still today, if you want to see God’s salvation, if you want to see Christ you will find him in humble places. Here, in the humble Word of God, here is God’s salvation.

6. The Sacrament of Baptism

In the humble sacrament of baptism, is Christ. I want you to think about when a child/adult gets baptized or a person gets confirmed. Do you realize that they are seeing God’s salvation? Christ works in the person getting baptize d’s heart – changing them, giving them faith, giving them the forgiveness of sins. That’s God’s salvation.

Here it is in the Lord’s Supper. In the Eucharist, or Holy Communion. Today, some of you will take it. For others of you, that day isn’t far away at all. Here in humble bread and wine you find God’s salvation – the body and blood of Christ, given and shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins.

7. Bringing it all Together

As we bring it all together, I want you all to think about something. Are you ready for Christmas this year? More importantly, are you ready for Christ? Are you ready to celebrate his first coming? Are you ready to receive him, when he comes again in all of his glory? If you listen closely, over the songs about Rudolph and Frosty and Father Christmas you hear at the mall if you listen closely, you will hear a voice, a voice of one calling in the desert; prepare the way for the Lord. That is the message of Advent repent. Have you done the most important thing, and accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour?

Let Christ take away your sins, and change the direction of your life. Let him prepare you for the day you see him, not in a card, or a manger scene let Christ prepare you for the day you will see him face to face. Amen.

Let us pray:

God of grace and glory,
You fill us with a huge amount of happiness and expectation:
Help us to grow our love for you, and for each other, more and more
together with true knowledge and perfect judgement
Carry on, until the work You have begun in us is done
When Your Son, Jesus Christ returns;
Our Lord and Saviour
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen

Contacts
Rector
Rev. Dr. Andrew Warmback
083 693 6745
Asst. Priest
Rev Bruce Woolley
079 544 7566
Church Wardens
Dr. Egerton Hingston
073 080 4113
Mrs. Yolisa Mapasa
082 435 8170
Alternate Church Warden
Mr. Bheki Shabalala
082 086 9548
Church Treasurer
Mr. Lethu Mkhize
082 053 9004
E-mail: paulsdbn@mweb.co.za
Website: www.stpaulsdurban.org.za
Facebook: @stpdbn
Instagram: stpaulsdurban
Twitter:@StPaulsDbn

Giving:

You are invited to make a contribution to the ministry and mission of our church by making a donation to the following account: Account Name: St Paul’s Church Account Number: 50854628623 Bank: First National Bank (FNB) Branch Code: 221426