John aims for his message to reach all people, putting no limits on who should hear him and carrying every expectation that his testimony will bear fruit.
As he takes to the region a message for all of humanity, his actions seem audacious, even today. We are in a world designed to make communication across oceans as simple as a call or instant message. Even so, the idea of reaching all people is challenging and feels impossible for many of us. What will it take to get over our assumptions regarding who will listen and to stretch our voices beyond the comfort of faith communities and friend networks? How can we become so excited, so inspired, so moved to tell the good news that we persist despite the odds?
It may be that we must engage by faith in our own cries out of the wilderness spaces of our lives. But what does it mean to cry out? Should we cry, shout, whisper, sing, or pause in silence? Just as Jesus comes through the pain of childbirth, announcements of angels, and leaps in wombs, so we can be attentive to place and time. Discernment of how to share the good news is not easy work, but what if we listen more intently for our unique gifts and unique circumstances before we spread the good news?
We must remember that the desire of John for all people to see God at work has not changed. But many methods, people, and places are different today. It helps to know that no matter how hard we try, even John knew that everyone not everyone will open themselves to receive this good news. Still, our call is to faithfully proclaim it.
Lord, grow excitement within us as we anticipate the coming Christ. Help us to focus on the One who brings the stories and lessons full circle. Inspire us by the life that makes new life possible, and connect us anew through the newness of life that Advent brings. Amen.
The prophet Malachi speaks of a future day when God’s messenger will come to prepare the way for the Lord. The Lord will then purify the people and restore proper worship of God. Christians believe that John the Baptizer was this messenger, preparing the way for Christ. In Luke 1, the Holy Spirit fills Zechariah, John’s father, who proclaims that the fulfillment of God’s promises to their descendants has begun. Luke continues the story of John in chapter 3, describing John’s ministry of calling people to repentance. They need to prepare the way of the Lord in their own hearts, thus fulfilling Malachi’s prophecy. Paul in Philippians focuses not on the advent of Christ but on the ongoing power of Christ’s presence to make us blameless and righteous in God’s sight.
Read Malachi 3:1-4. How have you encountered the refiner’s fire? What was your experience?
Read Luke 1:68-79. In what ways have you experienced God’s tender mercy in your life?
Read Philippians 1:3-11. How do you make expressing your gratitude for others a daily habit?
Read Luke 3:1-6. How are you preparing the way of the Lord? What crooked paths are you helping to make straight?
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