SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13
John 1:6-8,19-28 (NRSV)
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. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said,
“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’”
as the prophet Isaiah said.
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.
FINDING JOY IN HUMBLE PURPOSE
I do not envy any of our governmental leaders, especially this year! They have had to make tough decisions in an unprecedented time. They know they will face criticism (and even threats) with any new decision or policy about our safety or economy. During this pandemic, I have become upset when our governor has changed the Covid statistical parameters or discontinued certain safety policies. Yet, I know he is pressured from many people with a wide range of opinions and information. He has much to consider beyond what I deem important.
It takes a certain strength of character to stand strong against the tide of popular opinion, to decide what seems best despite the backlash that will follow. We do not need to be political leaders to understand this well. There are times when we must choose a path or make a decision that will not be well received. Even as we believe in what we are doing, even as we believe we are making the best possible choice, we know we may be vulnerable to the skepticism or criticism from others.
Where can we find our Advent joy in these situations, this particular “junk” of self-doubt amid our concerns about what others may think of us?
Well here comes John! John is a fascinating example of humility, of finding one’s integrity in God alone. When asked who he was, John’s answer mostly included everything he was NOT. John was not the Messiah, Elijah, or even a prophet. John only professed to be the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord…’ and said he was unworthy to even untie the thong of (the) sandal of the One who was to come.
John’s strength of character came from understanding his simple purpose: his calling to be “a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.” His example can be our guide. Can we surrender our need to prove ourselves or do what is popular, and in humility, only desire to live as a light that points to Jesus? Can we do our own soul searching to discover who we are not – and do not need to be?
In doing so, we will find the beautiful Advent joy of knowing who we are and whose we are. We will find the strength and integrity of joyfully living as imperfect but beloved children of God, following our own unique calling, simply seeking ways to show people the loving light of Christ.
Our readings for Tuesday will be Isaiah 61:1-4,8-11 and Psalm 126.
Bible verses taken from https://www.biblegateway.com/