Summary: A sermon for the 2nd Sunday in Advent, series C

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2nd Sunday in Advent - December 10, 2006 “Series C”

Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, through the power of your Holy Spirit, open our hearts and minds to your word, that we might hear it with relevance in our time and place. Enable us to hear your call to prepare for your kingdom through sincere repentance, and give us the ability and courage to amend our lives. This we ask in the name of your Son, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

As I mentioned last week, our Gospel lessons for the coming year will be read predominately from the Gospel of St. Luke. Thus, I would like to begin my meditation this morning, by taking a few moments to share with you some background concerning Luke and his particular emphasis, which he brings to his Gospel of Jesus the Christ.

Luke was not originally a disciple of Christ. He was a Greek physician and historian, who had been attracted to studying the Jewish faith. But then Luke met Paul, when Paul visited the city of Troas, and as a result of Paul’s witness, Luke came to faith in Jesus the Christ. As a result, Luke became a close friend of Paul, dropped his professional practice, and traveled with Paul on his missionary journey as Paul’s assistant and personal physician.

It is because of Luke’s scientific training and concern for history, that we owe insights into our Lord’s life and ministry that we would not have otherwise. According to most modern Biblical scholars, Luke wrote his Gospel and the Book of Acts between 80 and 90 AD. By this time, most of the first generation Christians who had personally known Jesus or were eyewitnesses to the events that had taken place in the life of Christ, were almost all dead.

As a result, Luke, being the historian that he was, set out to record the events in the life of Christ and the early church, that they might be preserved for generations. In his own words, writing to Theophilus, Luke states, “I decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account…so that you may know the truth about which you have been instructed.”

Of course, Luke had to rely on the stories and reports of others in order to compile his research, which may account for some of the discrepancies that exist between the synoptic Gospels. However, Luke’s concern for historical accuracy provides us with two important insights that can help us understand our lesson for this morning.

First, it was important for Luke to date the events that ushered in our Lord’s ministry, to insure that we understand that what he is describing about the life of Jesus took place at a particular time in history. And he does so in a manner common to his day. Luke tells us that “It was in the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, etc. In this way, Luke grounds his story to events that are verifiable outside the context of his Gospel. As a result, historians tell us that the date that Luke tells us that John the Baptist began his ministry of preparing the way for Jesus took place in 26 or 28 AD.

But it is not just the date that is important. According to the commentary published in the worship guide Sundays and Seasons 2001, “Here Luke wants the reader to know that the ministry of John the baptizer, and the subsequent ministry of Jesus, did not happen off in a corner of heaven somewhere, but the word of God came to John at a specific time and place in history…

The importance of this documentation for Luke is to show that God is active in the events and people of history… God does not simply act in heaven and then send the results to us, but God acts within our history, among human beings to accomplish God’s will.” End quote [Augsburg Fortress, 2000]

This says to me that John the baptizer was the human instrument by which God acted to proclaim his will for the people living in that time and in that place. It was at that time that God’s Word came to John in the wilderness, that rough hewn man dressed in camel’s hair, and he became God’s voice crying out to call the people to repentance as the means of preparing for the coming of the Messiah and the kingdom of God.

But more importantly, it tells us that as we hear these words of John, read and given voice in this place and time in history, God is still active among human beings to accomplish his will. It tells us that through the reading of the Scriptures, the preaching of God’s word, and in the celebration of the sacraments, God continues to speak to us, calling us to prepare for and embrace his kingdom, which is in our midst.

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