The Second Sunday of Advent

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent, welcome Rev Robert Frede as he leads us in worship.

O Lord, raise up, we pray, your power and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness we are grievously hindered in running the race that is set before us, your bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be honour and glory, now and for ever.

The Readings

The First Reading: Isaiah 40, 1-11
The Second Reading: 2 Peter 3, 8-15
Reader: This is the word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.

The Gospel Reading Mark 1, 1-8


Sermon by Rev Robert Frede

On this second Sunday of the Advent journey, the Word of God is announced to us as it was written in the book of Isaiah and fulfilled in the ministry of John the Baptist.

Long ago God declared: I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’.

We are familiar with the message, “Prepare the way of the Lord,” for it was the central message of John the Baptist, the one whom God had sent to set the stage for the coming of Jesus as the saviour of the world.

John the Baptist, now there is a character!

He went running about the wilderness of Judea yelling and screaming, “Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand!” and “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his path straight!” John dressed funny, he wore a garment made of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. He also ate a strange diet, composed of whatever was around, in his case, locusts and wild honey.

John had something to say to the world and no one and nothing was going to stop him. He didn’t care what he looked like. He didn’t care what people thought about him, all he cared about was proclaiming the kingdom of God.

John was not your average cleric, he didn’t behave well, he was not refined or dignified. He did not conduct liturgies in a nice church sanctuary or stand behind a nice pulpit and deliver sophisticated homilies to an attentive parish. No, John took his message to the streets! If John were here today, he would probably be downtown in middle of the public square. He would be right in the centre of the holiday shopping crowd as they counted down the “shopping days till Christmas” next to the Salvation Army kettle and the street musicians. There he would be shouting and yelling, “Repent! and Prepare the way of the Lord!” Then he would offer to take shopping bag laden sinners to a nearby fountain to be baptized with water for repentance. Many of the shoppers would probably turn their heads away or say “there goes another grubby homeless guy who is doesn’t have both oars in the water.”

Yes, people today would not pay much attention to John or his message. But we should pay attention. For John realized that the Lord Jesus was coming and he knew that the prophecy of Isaiah would be fulfilled in Jesus. He knew he had to cry that “the people are grass.” He had to cry that they are “like flowers in the field.” He had to cry that “the grass withers and the flower fades but the Word of God would stand forever” and that Word of God was coming soon, in the flesh of Jesus.

Yes, many people today would not pay much attention to John or his message. But we should pay attention, because John is telling us important things, things we need to know as we wait for the Lord.

He is telling us to be faithful to the Lord and faithful to the reign of God. He is telling us that life can be a wilderness in which it is hard to hear God’s word. John is telling us to be prophetic and speak the word of the Lord. He is telling us not to be overly concerned with exterior things like our appearance, but to concentrate on the condition of our souls. Lastly, John is telling us to keep tuned in to the reality of God’s reign and to tell others about the coming of the Lord, no matter how hopeless we think the cause may be.

There is a story I once heard about an old man who lived in the centre of a desolate and hopeless city. The man walked outside of his house and onto the streets and yell “Love, peace, righteousness!” The next day he would do the same thing, he would leave his house, walk onto the street and yell at the top of his lungs “Love, peace and righteousness!” He would do this everyday, rain or shine, like clockwork.

One day the man’s next door neighbour who was tired of the daily yelling, went out on the street and confronted him. He said “Hey man, are you crazy?, what the heck do you think you are doing? Every day you come out of your house and yell ‘love, peace and righteousness!’ Fool, don’t you know nobody is listening to you! This city is full of hate and crime and hopelessness, there is no love of neighbour and there is no peace and righteousness to be found, so give it a rest and save your breath! Don’t you know that you can’t change the world?”

The old man said, “You are right, my yelling and shouting about ‘love, peace and righteousness’ may not change the world, but one thing it will do is to stop the world from changing me.”

During this week of Advent, remember to prepare the way of the Lord within your life and in within your own soul and keep in the corner of your mind the old man of the story and John the Baptist to inspire you. In your our own way, go and tell others to “prepare the way of the Lord.” Keep at this, for it you evangelical mission. Keep at it, whether or not you believe anyone cares, whether or not you believe anyone will listen, at least you’ll care, at least you’ll be listening, as you tell yourself and the world

“Prepare the Royal Highway, for the King of Kings is near,
Let every hill and valley a level road appear,
then greet the King of Glory,
foretold in the sacred story
and say Hosanna to the Lord,
for he fulfill’s God’s Word.”


(Stanza from the popular hymn “Prepare the Royal Highway”)

Prayers and Intercessions

Everlasting God, as we journey through this season of Advent, seeking to make our paths straight for His coming, we now offer our prayers and petitions through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Mighty God, your servant John the Baptist called people to change the way they lived and to prepare themselves for the coming of your son. Raise up we pray, prophetic voices in our own time. Enable us to discern the truth which draws us closer to you. Give us the courage to reject the voice of the evil one tempting us to fulfil our selfish desires. We pray for all those who teach, preach and minister to the congregation here in the Haarlem Chaplaincy. May they be as fearless in proclaiming the truth as your servant John and may we be ready to adapt and change in response to their leadership.

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Creator God, we pray for our world and the problems faced by so many of your children, not least as we endure the ongoing pandemic. We pray for all who live under the threat of war and terrorism and the poverty which comes in its wake. We pray for those who have little to eat, meagre dwellings and few material possessions when we who live in the richer world have so much. Help us to care and to share and to give generously whenever we can in the same way that you gave us your son Jesus Christ at the first Christmas.

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Father God, your son Jesus lived an ordinary family life in Nazareth and so you understand the difficulties faced in family life. We pray for all of those involved in providing support for troubled families and strengthening our community life. As we draw closer to Christmas we pray for those families who will feel their problems increased by the need to provide what they cannot truly afford.

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Merciful God, may your blessing be upon all those who are sick, in pain, anxious or troubled. We ask you to be close to those passing through dark places, to those undergoing treatments at home or in hospital and to give thanks for all working in the Health Services who are treating them. We especially pray for those within our Chaplaincy.

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Loving God, give rest to those who have gone from our lives to be with you. May they now live the life eternal and rest in everlasting peace in your presence. Strengthen the bereaved with the knowledge of your loving presence in this their time of greatest need.

(add names of the recently departed or on Anniversary list)

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer

Holy God, we ask you to help us make time for true preparations this Advent. In the midst of the rush of life, help us to find inner quietness and an awareness of your presence. Let this Christmas be a time when we concern ourselves not so much with material things but focus more on the spiritual gifts you give so unselfishly

Merciful Father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen


Anthem and Hymn

Anthem: How beauteous are their feet – Charles V. Stanford

Hymn: NEH 5 – Hark! A herald voice is calling


Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon you, scatter the darkness from before your path, and make you ready to meet him when he comes in glory; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.  Amen.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

In the name of Christ. Amen.