Sunday, December 11, 2016 - Third Sunday of Advent

Advent 2016

 "Where Meek Souls Will Receive Him"


            One week ago, we heard that prophet called John the Baptist, a voice crying in the wilderness, calling Israel to repentance and pointing toward the Messiah to come:  "I baptize you with water...but he who is coming after me is mightier than I...he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."  But now, as the Gospel lesson for today describes it, John is in prison, facing persecution and the possibility of death.  Perhaps because of his circumstances, his sermon has turned into uncertainty, for he asks Jesus through his own disciples:  "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?" (Matthew 11:3).   We can't begin to know all he was thinking, but John apparently had gone from courageous public preaching to a measure of private doubt.

            John the Baptist may leave us with questions we can't answer, but certainly those of us who are walking this Advent journey toward the manger can sense its truth.  We may have our own set of convictions as well as doubts this time of year.  Though not imprisoned like John, we may feel pressures within and without.  In light of all that, it may be good for us to ask ourselves:  As we await the coming of Christ, what kind of person, what kind of ministry, what kind of relationship are we anticipating?  The truth is that, Jesus Christ, when he comes, upsets the expectations of people.  All of us are left with John to decide what we will and what we will not believe about this Jesus called the Christ.

            Jesus came into the world and not all of the world received him.  The message of Advent and Christmas is that God sent a son, Jesus, but not all were watching and waiting, not everyone welcomed him into their hearts.  Scripture is mostly silent on this subject; we are not told precisely why, but we assume it was for the usual reasons.  Life was already busy and full, fairly interesting, somewhat fulfilling, and so Jesus Christ was simply crowded out.

            But then, thankfully, there were others who did receive him.  They were the meek souls who opened their hearts to Jesus when he came into the world.  They allowed him entrance to their lives.  They practiced the grace of hospitality toward Christ, and the New Testament records what happened to them when they did.  Mark it down, friends:  Those who receive this Christ are changed forever. 


-- John Finley



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