Advent Gospel and Epistles are concerned with the Christian ministry and its great prototype. The ministry of John the Baptist is one of preparation for Jesus’ first coming. The Christian ministry today calls us to prepare the people for Jesus’ Second Coming. Jesus Christ at His first coming sent His messengers to prepare the way before Him. Today, Advent Gospel and Epistles summons us to pray that we minister, and stewards of God’s mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready Jesus’ way, by first turning our hearts to Jesus before turning the hearts of other disobedient to Jesus Christ and for the people to be found acceptable in His sight at His Second Coming. The tragedy is, how many people in Christian ministry today belief in Jesus, His Second Coming, and how to prepare? You cannot give what you don’t have.
The assertion of His Eminence Sunday Mbang, a former President, World Methodist Council calls for personal reflection among ministers and workers. His Eminence Mbang said, “I am not totally sure whether other religious persuasions had been battered by their teachers and leaders as in the case with the Christian religion. Some Christian religious practitioners, either play games with the tenets of the religion, while others dilute it to suit their human sin and desire, while others shamefully denounce it as untenable and unworthy of anything in the name of scholarship.” John Wesley on the danger of ruin to Methodism point to his concern with Christian ministry. According to him, ‘our preachers, many of them, are fallen. They are not spiritual. They are not alive to God. They are soft, enervated, fearful of shame, toil, and hardship. They have not the spirit which God gave to Thomas Lee at Pateley Bridge or to you at Boston. Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven upon earth.’
To set up the kingdom of heaven upon earth, Advent Gospel and Epistle reminds us of the description of the clergy given in the charge in the ordination service to those to be ordained priests as messengers, watchmen, and servant of the Lord. Advent Gospel and Epistle tells us to think of priests as servants of Christ who have been given the work of explaining God’s mysterious ways bearing in mind that as priests ‘our first duty is to be faithful to the one we work for,’ that is Jesus Christ. As priest, are you faithful to Jesus Christ? Do you know Him as your Lord and Saviour? Our answers to these questions will determine the growth, health or decline of the church and leadership.
Advent Gospel and Epistle summons the priests as messengers, ministers, and stewards to know that we are sent by God to proclaim the Good News He has entrusted us with complete loyalty to its terms of reference. As ministers and stewards of God’s mysteries we are responsible for proclaiming, in Words and Sacrament, the “open secret” of the gospel of redemption (Col 1: 25-27; Rom 16:25-26).
The present downward slide of God’s Word raises concern with the Christian ministry and leadership. To overcome the present spiritual and moral slides in homes, churches, and nations, we need faithful messengers, ministers, and stewards to restore our Christian ministry, leadership, and heritages through Bible teaching and not tales telling. Advent Gospel is about urgent appeal to reverse the present dangerous and infantile state of faith of Christian ministry especially, preachers and preaching. We need the ministry of the prophets that puppets. The warning to those in Christian ministry is that the blood of men and women are upon our heads as ministers, stewards, and messengers if we don’t tell them that Jesus saves and the need for repentance in preparation for Jesus’ Second Coming.