Readings: Lectionary Year B, 2nd Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 40:1-11 – God’s promise of redemption and a coming saviour
2 Peter 3:8-15a – a reminder that God does not work to human timetables
Mark 1:1-8 – introducing the person and message of John the Baptist

The life of John the Baptist, Terrington St. John, Norfolk. Ward & Hughes.
From the angel appearing to Zechariah, to John’s execution on Herod’s orders: do these depictions help grasp the sweep of John’s extraordinary life?

Some thoughts on the readings
– Isaiah’s well-known prophecy of the one who prepares the way of the Lord is applied to John the Baptist in all four Gospels, showing how fundamentally important the first Christians considered it. John’s task is now ours.
– Before Jesus’ followers were called Christians (see Acts 11:26), they were known as followers of the Way (for example, see Acts 9:2).
– God’s plan will unfold at the right speed, not the speed we might like. Israel was in exile for 70 years before the comforting message came through Isaiah.

Suggestions for further Bible reading
Psalm 77:11-19 God doesn’t really need humans to make a way, nor to announce God’s arrival: the sea is no more barrier than hill or valley.
Acts 18:24-28 Apollos knew John’s message of repentance, but had not heard about God’s forgiveness until Priscilla and Aquila taught him a better way
John 14:1-7 Jesus is the Way to God. If we follow Jesus, we are on the right road, guided by God’s Holy Spirit (see also Isaiah 30:20-21)
Do any other Bible passages come to mind when you read today’s readings?

Points for Prayer
– Give thanks for the faith and courage of everyone who shares the good news of Jesus, especially for those who shared it so that you could hear it
– Pray that God will remove obstacles to people encountering Jesus, whether they are barriers of language, culture, geography, or prejudice
– Pray for those who speak truth and so make powerful people uncomfortable: ask God to give them courage and protection, and make their message heard.

Points for Action
– Check your church for anything which makes it hard for people with disabilities to get in or move around. Ask your PCC to take action on those things (for example, obtaining ramps, or installing a hearing loop).
– When you need to clear ice or snow from your drive or footpath, offer to do the same for a neighbour, especially one who might find it difficult.