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some departure, to show people their need for forgiveness – Jewish tradition said the you forgave 3 times hence Peters 7! Tended not to ‘major’ on individuals need for forgiveness. John invites all to come repent and points towards Jesus, the one who will baptise not only with water but with the fire of the Holy Spirit, burning the chaff of sin.

John also filled a void, Malachi the last prophet recorded in the Old Testament was some 400 yrs ago. Yearning for prophecy. Luke reminds us there was a yearning for the Messiah – and at 1st glance was this John!

He points not to self – as Jesus does – but away, beyond, to Jesus

‘HE must increase, I must decrease’ I am not worthy to be His slave let alone His servant!

So John came to challenge people to move beyond the national recognition of sin, to a personal one, to prepare the way for a new way to be in relationship with God, personal not national. John baptise with water Jesus with the life-giving, gift and fruit giving Spirit, who brings us into that personal relationship with God through Jesus.

What is in this for us?

Advent a time to review our own ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus

In that relationship we have a prophetic call – to share Jesus to prepare the way in their lives for Him. How?

By showing their need – but oh so carefully (Nicky Gumbel and ‘you look awful!)

By showing that relationship in our lives and how vital and important it is to us – more important than anything

Max Lucado ‘who/what do you worship, what stops you coming to worship can make that more important than God! Work I realise is something that’ has to be done.

BUT let our lives witness to friends and family as to who is the most important person in our lives – which is exactly what John is doing. His life was a signpost to Jesus.

For me this Gospel reading asks me that question again am I a signpost to,  how important is Jesus to me?