Readings for the Third Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
John 1:6-8, 19-28
Peace be with you!
With so much pain, corruption, hate, and war in the world, it can be difficult to see joy and to be happy. My family and church family have experienced many deaths and serious health issues lately. Just when we think everyone is healthy, someone comes down with a serious health issue or dies unexpectedly. Not only are we facing personal struggles, but the world itself is so bleak these days. Homeless children on our Angel Christmas Tree are asking for blankets, toiletries, and shoes instead of toys. National news features stories about racism and police over-using their power, and international news is laden with headlines about ISIS and suicide bombers. We just cannot catch a break.
Then I turn to Isaiah and John the Baptist calling for us to rebuild and point to the light in the world, and I just want to throw up my hands. I would like one day of freedom from the darkness where I can laugh and run without waiting for the next batch of bad news—just one day without worrying about anything. Yet Isaiah calls us to comfort those to mourn by giving them hope in the Lord’s glory (Isaiah 61:2-3). We should help the children who are homeless with blankets, tents, toiletries, and shoes to give them hope in a better tomorrow.
We need to rebuild from the ground up to reclaim our identity as Christians—as the ones who point to the light. As Christians, we are to tend to the needs of the less fortunate—the poor, the naked, the homeless, and the forsaken, because we are all lost in the darkness. No one is better off than those next to them. We have all sinned—lied, cheated, thought wrongly, and gone against the Lord. We are nothing without our hope in the Messiah.
So we turn to John the Baptist in the wilderness, who points us towards the light. When he had the opportunity to claim to be the Messiah or Elijah, John the Baptist said, “I am not” (John 1:19-21). Then John the Baptist points us to the Messiah:
“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” (John 1:26-27 NRSV).
No one is worthy of the Messiah. No one is worthy of sharing a meal with him. No one is worthy of him making the ultimate sacrifice for our sins to reclaim us as God the Father’s children. No one is worthy.
Yet John the Baptist points us toward the Messiah, who is the light of the world. Our human condition creates our need for the light to come into the world. We need the light to draw us close to God again. Therefore, we need to make room for the light in our lives. We need stop living in the past and start living in the here and now. We need to stop pushing the issues of today aside and start making the light shine brighter. We need to stop dwelling in the darkness and direct ourselves, our friends, our family members, and everyone we meet to the light where there is hope in something better—something beyond our imagination. Because when we spread the hope, we take away Satan’s power, and we make the light brighter and brighter.
Go and tell the good news that the light is coming into the world.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for John the Baptist directing us to the light. Help us to see the light in the world. Lead us to share that hope with others. Thank you for giving us the duty to spread hope in the world. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- Who directed you to the light? Who needs to be directed to the light?
- Where do you find hope in the world?
Photograph: William Fernando Martinez/AP