By REV ANGELA PALACIOUS
How do you react when you see or hear any or all of the following warnings?
• Danger keep out
• Detour road closed
• Poison do not drink
• Beware of the dog
• Private property no trespassing
• Slippery when wet
Most of us heed warnings, especially when it involves breaking the law or endangering our health. Let us consider some others.
• Repent and forsake your sins
• Prepare the way of the Lord
• Be ready as we know not the day or the hour
• Greet the Lord with joy
Are we as ready to heed these warnings? These are Advent admonitions to provide ammunition to fight against the devil.
The prayer or Collect for the second Sunday in Advent puts it this way:
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
To heed is to pay attention and follow instructions, and the opposite is to:
• Dismiss the necessity to comply
• Procrastinate and not follow through in a timely manner
• Outright refusal to respond
• Make excuses
To forsake is to give something up, leaving it alone, breaking the habit or turning our back on it. It is a deliberate, intentional and concerted effort to be obedient to the commands of God.
If you are not sure what to forsake try the following:
• Search your soul for answers
• Examine your conscience daily
• Receive spiritual direction or counselling
• Study the Scriptures for ongoing revelation
The serious nature of the undertaking (to prepare to face Judgement Day) is described by the prophet Malachi: I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; (Malachi 3:1-4 NIV).
John the Baptist preaches a similar message to the people in his day in Luke 3: 1-6 NIV:
“He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.
“Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all people will see God’s salvation.”
Today, we who are priests and pastors preach the same message of warning against: crime, corruption, immorality, and all the other sins highlighted in the Ten Commandments and the prophetic writings, as well as in various New Testaments passages. What we want is to echo St Paul in Philippians 1 : 3-11 NIV:
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus...And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”
It is time for us a nation to heed the warnings, forsake our sins and be willing and able to greet the Lord with joy when He comes again as judge.