Third Sunday of Advent
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and
the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
1st Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
No sooner did I mention a couple of weeks ago that we would be focusing our attention on Mark’s Gospel during the coming liturgical year than we find ourselves reading from John’s Gospel this morning.
Like last week’s reading from Mark, we find ourselves this morning reading about the coming of John the Baptist, who John describes as one who had come to bare witness to the coming of the long-awaited Messiah. John calls Jesus’ cousin a “witness” and we want to take a moment to look at what a witness is and their responsibility in testifying to the truth.
In a court of law, witnesses are called to testify to what they may have seen or heard. It is expected that their testimony will be a truthful and honest account of what they know about the event that is being looked at. We talked a bit last week about why the people were coming out to hear John speak and were being baptized. John was recognized as being God’s messenger and the words that he spoke were from God for his people.
Our lesson this morning tells of a group of religious leaders who had come out to hear John speak and they heard him describe a light that was coming into the world. John acknowledged that he was not that light, but that he had come to prepare the way for one who was to follow….one who would baptize the people with the Holy Spirit. John came with the same message that the Old Testament prophets had spoken to God’s chosen people years before. John was being a witness to what he had seen and heard from God during his years in the desert.
This morning I have asked the congregation to look at the covenant that we profess at the time of our baptism and conformation. We will look in the Book of Common Prayer on page 304 and the questions and responses that are listed there. Having done that then we need to see that this is meant to describe the testimony that each of us is meant to profess boldly.
The question that we must ask ourselves is do we believe those statement? And, if so, are we being a faithful witness to our beliefs in our daily lives? We repeat the ancient words of the Nicene each Sunday, but do we live out the words of the creed throughout the days of the coming week? A witness is obligated to testify to what they have seen and what they know. If you have experienced Christ in your life, then you have that same obligation. You and I are called to share with others what Christ has done in our lives.
If you were a doctor or scientist and you had discovered the cure for Covid 19 you would certainly want to share that knowledge with the whole world. However, you do have a knowledge that can change the world. A medical person would never consider keeping his life-saving knowledge to himself. Why might you ever neglect sharing what Christ has done with you with others? Why might you ever refuse to be a witness to God’s saving grace and mercy.
You and I all know something that the world needs to know. We know that God is good….all the time.
An Act of Spiritual Communion
“My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the holy sacrament of your body and blood. I love you above all things and I desire to receive you into my soul. Since I cannot at this time receive you sacramentally, I invite you to come spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were here with me and I unite myself with you fully. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen
A Prayer for the Church and Benediction:
Almighty and everliving God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers for this parish family. Strengthen the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent. Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.