Sermon 27th November Advent Sunday

Readings  Matthew 24, 36-44   Romans 13, 11-14                


We lit our first advent candle this morning, for hope, like a light shining in the darkness. Then we read from Paul’s letter to the Romans;

Let us put on the armour of light, and he follows it with “clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ”

In a fashion-conscious world where what you wear is often used either to define what you are or to make some sort of statement to the world, Paul’s advice to Christian followers is as bold now as it was then.

If we are truly to armour ourselves with light and clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus, what we spiritually wear will not only define us, but will indeed make a statement to the world.

A statement that does not just say we are followers of Christ but that what we spiritually wear is like a beacon of hope shining into the darkest places of this world.

When Christ came to earth he didn’t need a uniform to define who he was,  he didn’t have to dress to impress to gain attention. He simply went about his father’s work in probably quite normal clothing, teaching, healing, caring and loving. And he didn’t do so in the spotlight of the world, instead he became the light that shone in the darkness, those places the world chose to forget or despise. He went amongst the poor, amongst  the tax collectors, with the lepers, with the beggars, the sick, the mentally ill, the outcasts.


His light shone into the darkest corners of the world and cast out the shadows, and ultimately, of course, cast out the  very shadow of death with the overpowering light of love.


Being clothed with the Lord Jesus and having the armour of that same light of overpowering love does define us as Christians and should, in itself make a statement to the world. Paul was encouraging his readers to live in this way. Not in a way that allowed them to put on or cast off the garment that is Christ like one might change your clothes in the morning, but instead to be constantly ready, constantly dressed, ready for action, ready to be like Christ and  ready for his coming.

Ready for his coming.

We spoke a few weeks back about different understandings of the second coming, but in the context of Advent, being constantly ready, anticipating, clothed with Christ, dressed and ready to go or ready to meet Christ himself, reflects that hope of advent, of the incarnation of Christ, of that first coming to earth as a tiny vulnerable baby. Of God incarnate in a seemingly impossible, highly unlikely way.


No huge entrance, no kingly uniform as many might have expected, just a baby in a manger who took some 30 odd years to reveal to the world the love that was implicit in that birth. The love of God.


We wait expectantly, knowing the partial end of the story, but, as Jesus explained to his disciples and Paul to his readers, the glorification on the cross and resurrection were the culmination of the salvation story, but not the conclusion. Thus the need to be always ready, always dressed, always hopeful.


But what does that look like in practice? How easy do we find it, not just at advent, but throughout the year to truly be clothed in Christ, and do we trust the armour of light enough to protect us from all the arrows of the world?

Both are easier said than done, perhaps why Paul so encouraged the church at Rome to be constantly dressed.


It is why the church was formed, in order to share resources, learning, encouragement, hope, support and love. In order to worship God together and listen for his word together. To pray, to read, study together, learn from and understand in our own context the words of scripture. To encourage each other in our wearing of the royal  robe of Christ, to ensure, together, that the armour of light we wear is not chipped away by the swords and  arrows of darkness. And most especially, to come to the Lord’s table, that ultimate place of communion with each other and with Christ, where truly as we remember him and all he was and is, we become one body, his body here on earth. His church.


So, this advent, as we prepare again to celebrate the incarnation of God, let us live in the hope, the hope that is like a candle in the darkness, and let us through the way we are clothed in Christ and armoured with light reveal more clearly through us God’s gift of love the  world at Christmas so that all who come here to celebrate, and all we meet outside of these walls in celebration may know a little more of God’s ,love in their lives.

That is what I shall hope for this Advent, I hope you’ll share that hope too.