Advent 3 - 2017

"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 . . . 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,'" (John 1:6-8 & 19-28)

In the days of Jesus Palestine was occupied by the Roman Empire. Some 5% of the population controlled virtually all the wealth. These wealthy elite, mostly Roman politicians, made all the decisions that affected common people's lives. And what do you read about in the Bible? Hunger, disease and demon possession. Have you never wondered why such realities were so rampant in Jesus' day?

On this third Sunday of Advent we return to John the Baptist, and our prayers for the fullness of God's presence in our lives continue. This week, however, we read from the Gospel of John, not the Gospel of Mark. Yet, the point is the same. "Those who sent us." Who might they be? Obviously, it is those in power who first see the danger in John the Baptist's proclamation, and they want to know who he is and from what power base he speaks.

There is no power in John save for the truth. John is not a prophet. He is not the Messiah Israel longs for. John is just a voice, one voice - like you or like me. 

Will we acknowledge with John the wilderness of our reality? Will we, like he, speak truth when those in power pursue us?

Stir up the wills of your faithful people, Lord God, and open our ears to the words of your prophets, that, anointed by your Spirit, we may testify to your light; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, on God, now and forever. Amen.