In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the desert,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.
And all mankind will see God’s salvation.’”
Words written a long time ago
To a people living a long time ago
But what if we read:
In the second year of the reign of Donald Trump—
when Mike Parson was governor of Missouri,—
and Bishop Robert Farr was the presiding Bishop
of the Missouri Area of the United Methodist Church,
the word of God came to the people of fill in the name of your church .
And the people of the congregation went into all the country,
preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
That changes the message doesn’t it?
It becomes up close and personal.
It is no longer about what God is telling them.
It becomes about what God is telling us.
We are the ones calling in the desert.
John was not only preaching to his church . . .
But to his government officials
He stood up to the powers that were – In his church – In his community – In his world
He called for repentance. He called SIN – SIN !
Are we as willing to stand up – to stand out – to go against the prevailing culture – for the sake of the Gospel?
I’m not just talking to you. I’m talking to me because I don’t like confrontation and strife.
But when we allow things to go on that we know are wrong because we don’t want to make waves we are sending a message that it really doesn’t matter.
That what we say in church on Sunday and what we do at work on Monday are not really connected.
Is it any wonder our children grow up and leave the church when we’ve taught them by example that the Scriptures don’t really apply to us today.
NEWS FLASH – YES THEY DO!
Jesus saith unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life:
no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
We claim the name of Christ. We should proclaim the name of Christ.
That doesn’t mean getting up in someone’s face and screaming at them.
It does mean living every day for Jesus. It means doing what God says even when others mock and ridicule us for doing it. It means turning the other cheek. It means loving the unlovable. And it means spending time with God, developing a relationship so that every moment of every day is guided by the Holy Spirit.
Christ is the Way.
We light this candle as a symbol of Christ the Way.
May the Word sent from God through the prophets lead us to the way of salvation.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.