Summary: This is the season of Joy, but not for everyone, in fact many have serious doubts. And we in the church maybe similar; even John the Baptist seriously doubted Jesus at the end. Can we take inspiration from him? Read on!
This sermon was delivered to St Oswald’s in Maybole,
Ayrshire, Scotland on the 12th December 2010
(a Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).
Advent 3 Year A
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today is the third Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Joy. This can be a bit ironic as many people suffer from the Christmas blue. The theme of today's service is therefore the blue's, or more importantly, how to overcome that depression which particularly manifests itself around Christmas time. I sincerely hope you are blessed with this service today ... and leave with the joy of the Lord.
So, let us start by blessing each and every one of in the peace.
We meet in Christ's name. Let us share his peace.
The Gospel Reading.
Hear the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to John Chapter 1 verses 6 to 8 and 19 to 28. Glory to Christ our Saviour.
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,'" as the prophet Isaiah said. Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, "Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" John answered them, "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." This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.
Give thanks to the Lord for his Glorious gospel. Praise to Christ our Lord.
“Please be seated, and join me in a short prayer.” In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit let these words bring you honour, and prepare us to live both in this world in which you have given us and the world to come. Amen.
Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Joy. This is the church’s preparation for the celebration for the coming of Christ; but this doesn't always relate to what the world is going through, as many people see the weeks before Christmas as something to endure ... rather than enjoy.
Do we as Christians look forward with joy towards Christmas; because there is more depression and suicides around Christmas time, than any other time of the year? This therefore does not suggest as the season of joy.
Even John the Baptist in our Gospel lesson this morning is very depressed. John is wondering if Jesus is the Messiah that he has been proclaiming. After all John is in prison because he was doing the Lords work, and now John is wondering whether he was doing what God wanted him to do; because if Jesus was not the messiah, then everything had been in vain.
Now John was the first prophet to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, and much of John preaching came from the Old Testament itself. Like some of the verses we read in Isaiah 35 this morning.
Verse 2. They shall see the glory of the LORD,
the majesty of our God.
Verse 4. Here is your God. He will come with vengeance,
And with terrible recompense.
Verse 10. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
John is in a pretty scary situation; he probably knew his days were numbered and he was wondering where he went wrong by proclaiming the coming of Jesus as the Messiah.
But where is this messiah because instead of preaching hellfire and brimstone, Jesus was doing works of mercy? John therefore was very confused; and he really needed to ask Jesus if e was really the “one”.
Years ago I received a great Birthday card from my wife Christine. On the outside it read: "Sweetheart, you're the answer to my prayers"; but when I opened it the inside was inscribed, “You're not what I prayed for exactly, but apparently you were the answer." Thanks.