This Weekend is Saturday the 8th and Sunday 9th of December, the Weekend beginning the Second Week of Advent.
The monks of Pluscarden Abbey sing the Benedictus: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel!  He has visited his people and redeemed them.”

Each of the four Gospels portrays John the Baptist in a slightly different light. In Matthew, John is first & foremost the preacher of repentance...
John preached at the Jordan for a reason. It was more than just a source of water for him to baptise. The River Jordan was the place that represented the border between the Jews’ slavery in Egypt – their wandering aimlessly in the desert – and the Promised Land.
By preaching his message there, John was inviting the Jews of his day to come out of the bondage of slavery, to leave their faults & wandering, sinful lives behind, & enter into the Promised Land, enter into God’s territory.
He points us to a new Exodus & says clearly the path from the wilderness to the new promised land is conversion.
John’s appearance in the wilderness is also a reminder of God’s gracious presence even in the desert, even when the people felt alone & helpless.
 In today’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew we hear the proclamation of John the Baptist.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name “John the Baptist?”

John appears in the wilderness. As well as describing the land near the southern part of the Jordan River, the word wilderness has rich biblical overtones. What does wilderness bring to mind...?

What are the wilderness places in my life, in my community, in the world?

Do I believe that in these places of loneliness, or broken relationships or failure, there is still room for grace?

Through his preaching, John prepares the way for Jesus & his ministry. Listen to the reading again hear John pointing ahead to one who is coming, one who is mightier.

Who has helped prepare the way for me to recognise the coming of the Lord, the moments of grace, in my life?

Speak to God now and express whatever is in your heart as a response to God’s love and care for you.