Collect

Advent 2/ St Nicholas’ Day

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.

Readings

Advent 2 – Isaiah 11: 1 – 10; Psalm 72: 1 – 7; Romans 15: 4 – 13 Matthew 3: 1 – 12 St Nicholas’s Day – 1 Sam 16: 1, 13 -16; Acts 20: 28 – 35; John 10: 11 – 16

Explanation

Think of runners at the Olympics – heavy clothing is discarded. Shorts, vest and shoes are made of the lightest and smoothest materials. Why must weight of clothing be kept to a minimum? Because every ounce counts in the race. Our words “gymnast,” “gymnastics,” “gymnasium” come from the Greek “gymnos” – stripped, or naked.

Spiritually it is our sins that impede us from living the life Jesus wants us to and from “running the race” of faith. Sins are the ambitions which drive us, the possessions which somehow possess us, the activities which absorb too much time. They are things not necessarily wrong in themselves, but which, over-indulged, interfere with and retard our progress in Christian life and service.

What hinders your spiritual effort, your movement toward heaven? What hinders your reading of God’s Word? What interferes with your attendance at church, and your giving to the Lord’s cause? What hinders your active helpfulness to others in their need, and your witness to Jesus? These are the weights to be cast aside. We may succeed in the race of life, gain all we want on earth, become the admiration and envy of others with a false sense of values, and yet die not a step nearer heaven, without Christ, far off from God.

“What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”