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He Came To Testify To The Light

This weekend, we celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent and continue to prepare our hearts, minds, and spirits for the coming of our Lord. In the Gospel reading for this Sunday, we hear of John the Baptist: There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. John 1:6-8

The light coming into the world is the Christ. In our Wednesday Bible study yesterday evening, we discussed John the Baptist, and also many of the other actors in the Gospels. How did they respond, and prepare for the coming of the light, the life, that is Jesus, the Christ, coming into our world?

We read about Mary in Luke Chapter 2, and Joseph in Matthew, Chapter 1. An angel of the Lord comes to the virgin Mary and tells her she is with child. She responds to God’s call in great faith with the famous words: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Luke 2

In Matthew, Chapter 1, we read that Joseph plans to quietly break off the engagement so as not to disgrace Mary. An angel of the Lord comes to Joseph in a dream and he also agrees to be faithful to God; to become the protector of Mary and the unborn child.

In Luke, Chapter 1, Mary’s cousin Elizabeth is too old to have a child. Her husband, Zechariah has his doubts when an angel appears to him at the Temple and tells him that Elizabeth will bear a son. Zechariah is struck dumb, and when the child is born, he writes, “His name shall be John.” Zechariah’s speech is restored and he proclaims:

Because of the tender mercy of our God,

     the dawn from on high will break upon us,

to shine upon those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

     to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Wise men from the East, the Magi, follow a star to Bethlehem and honour Jesus, the newborn King. They worship the Christ, and bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The Magi reveal to us that Christ is the King of all nations. On the other hand, Herod’s wealth, power, and prestige is threatened by the newborn King, so he plots to murder Jesus. Matthew 2

Finally, in John Chapter 1, the priests and Pharisees come to John the Baptist and ask, “Who are you.” Are you the Messiah? Are you Elijah? Are you the prophet? I wonder if they are seeking truth. Or is this an interrogation because their place of honour is threatened by the Baptist? John answers, “No I am not.” John’s role is to proclaim the coming of the light, the Christ, the Messiah. In contrast to the Pharisees who take the place of honour (Matthew 23:5-6), John does so with complete humility. He makes himself nothing because Christ, the light is so great.

It is fruitful for us to reflect on all of these actors. The saints are faithful to God. “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” The Magi seek truth and receive the blessings of God. The dogmatic Pharisees feel threatened and interrogate the Prophet and Jesus. The wicked try to foil God’s will and murder the innocent.

John the Baptist makes himself less so that he might better testify to the light. St. Paul does the same, saying: For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 2 Corinthians 4:5

We discussed the following question at Bible study yesterday evening:

Reflect on the work, worship, and praise of our parish. How do we proclaim Jesus, the light coming into our world?

I encourage all of us to reflect, pray, and search for the answers as a community of faith.

This is our important Advent work.

Every Blessing,

Rev. Jon

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