Posted by on Dec 13, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Live by Hope and Light

Dear Lord….our preparations to celebrate your birth this year are SO much different than they have been in past years. We are sorrowful that we cannot have the promise of all the fun and great things we have always done in celebration. However, dear Lord, we ARE celebrating the fact that you are a gift to us for all time. God’s gift of you to all people is one we are thankful for and will continue to celebrate our whole life.

Our gospel lesson for this 3rd Sunday in Advent is from John 1:6-8, 19-28. After preparing the statement that Jesus was with God at all times, John begins to talk about the fact that John the Baptist saw the Messiah. The gospel writer also states that John was sent to testify to the light that would be coming to the people. He was also to witness to the light, which means he would tell others about the light that was coming.

John was not the one people expected to precede the Messiah. The Jewish leaders questioned John about who he was. Levites, or assistants to the priests, were also sent to investigate who this person was and who was he talking about.

The leaders of the temple were asking John if he was Elijah. They asked if he was a prophet. He declined both of these guesses by saying he was one who was calling for people to prepare for the Lord’s arrival. They were also asking why John was baptizing people when he wasn’t Elijah, he wasn’t the Messiah and he wasn’t a prophet. These leaders were not willing to look beyond what John was saying. Their vision was fixed on what “had been” in the past and that they were expecting the same exact thing in their lifetime. They were reluctant to change their traditions that would have meant a change in their laws. They were influential people and didn’t want to lose that sense and to be more like the people that attended the temple.

John the Baptist was preparing people to see the Messiah. He said that the people were not seeing the Messiah. It’s possible they weren’t willing to see past their former experiences or visions of what the Messiah would be like. John even quoted Isaiah regarding him coming to the people to verify that he had been sent for a specific reason. The Jewish leaders always felt that baptism was the mark of the Messiah and because of these reasons, they overlooked who the Messiah really was. They clouded their own sight and closed their eyes to the truth.

John had a missionary outlook to witness to the people what he had seen and to help bring the people to believe in Christ. John also asked the people to believe…to be confident about his message and the person who would be coming. However, the leaders of the Jews had very diverse opinions about what leaders had been promised to them and didn’t want to look farther. John wanted the people to receive the Messiah by faith.

John was also asking the people who heard him to live by faith and light. He was asking them to open their eyes and really see who the coming Messiah was. John is challenging the people…all of the people to hope…and to do this…look beyond what they already knew and had known. They were choosing the way they wanted to view people…view John and how they would view the Messiah.

How do we view the world right now? Are we looking at our world through the eyes of all the years past? Are we willing to change our sight to look beyond what we have always known and look for new experiences? Are we being challenged to live by faith, not fear? Are we being challenged to live by hope and not despair?

I know that Ron and I put up decorations earlier than normal this year…because we wanted the lights surrounding us as the outside light grew darker and darker. We wanted to experience the celebratory light we have available in the house. We have made many trips to view the surrounding neighborhoods and the lighting as well as nearby community parks that are so beautiful.

We all decorate our homes and churches to draw everyone in. Without realizing it, we want to point to something beyond ourselves to celebrate. Even in our humanness we are pointing to the promise we all have in the birth of Christ. We are joyful that we can celebrate…even if it is different this year. In fact, the decorations make things seem more “like normal” and still reflect the light of our Lord.

We are inviting all people to celebrate the light of the arrival of Christ. However, we also want to realize that we are possibly being asked to look for something “beyond”. We are being asked to accept all of God’s people. We are being asked to not close our eyes to what may be coming to help us all build our own world into a better place. We are not to be like the Jews who had one vision of the Messiah and refused to look beyond that vision.

We live in the hope of the arrival of the baby Jesus…and we live in the light of the good news of Jesus Christ. We will live in hope…not despair…in faith…not fear.

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