Summary: Don’t let yourself get too distracted this Christmas. Remember who you are, and what it means to be a witness for Christ.
John 1:6-28: PREPARE FOR CHRISTMAS BY “LOOKING THE RIGHT WAY”
What is the number one cause of car accidents today? There are lots of causes. Obviously, weather and drunk driving are causes. Cell phones. Eating. Adjusting the radio or CD player. Some people shave, or do their hair, or read, while they are driving. There are all kinds of causes for car accidents today, but you can really boil them down to one. The number one cause of accidents, is when people aren’t looking the right way. In other words, you’re distracted. Part of your sandwich falls into your lap. Your dog tries to jump out the window. When you’re distracted, not looking the right way, there’s a good chance you’ll get yourself into a car accident.
For many people, Christmas can be like a car accident. Christmas can be a disaster. Instead of a time of joy, it becomes a time of frustration and depression. Instead of experiencing laughter, you experience crying and fighting and pain. Why is it, that for many people, Christmas can be about as much fun as getting into a car accident?
It’s because many people aren’t looking the right way. Many people are distracted from what Christmas, and what Christianity, are all about. Today, we’re going to talk about these things as we look at our Gospel lesson for today, John chapter one. Today is the third Sunday of the Advent season. Remember that Advent is that short, four week season of the church year, a time of preparation for the birth of Christ. Today we have lit the shepherd’s candle. Just as those shepherds were the first witnesses of the Christchild, so today, you and I are witnesses of the Christchild to others. And that is a hint of what our sermon will be focusing on this morning. If you are looking the right way, if you’re focusing on the right things, Christmas can be a time of joy. Today we’re going to see what that is, as we look at John the Baptist.
Last week we met him, this prophet who lived out in the desert. The Book of John describe him this way, “There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.” Do you see how John is described here? His purpose in life was to be a witness. His purpose in life was to testify. John the Baptist was a professional witness – but you wouldn’t find him in any courtroom. Instead, he was out in the desert, by the Jordan River. And he testified “concerning that light.” John’s job was to be a witness, testifying about The Light of the World, Jesus Christ.
When I was growing up, I lived less than two miles from “Candy Cane Lane.” Have you ever heard of Candy Cane Lane? In a big subdivision in Milwaukee, all the people get together and go all out with their Christmas decorating. You would not believe all the things these people do as they decorate their houses. One of the annual things to do is to drive as close as you can to Candy Cane Lane, and, if it’s a nice night, you get out of your car and walk through the neighborhood. People are there serving hot chocolate and cider on the sidewalk, collecting donations for different charities. People come from all over to see Candy Cane Lane.
Every night, one person from that neighborhood is elected to stand at the entrance of the subdivision with a glowing wand. His job is to wave people in, so that no matter where you’re from, you’ll know how to get to the lights of Candy Cane Lane, because that man is there, waving you in.
In many ways, that’s what John the Baptist did. His job was to stand in the desert and point people toward The Light of the World, Jesus Christ. He didn’t use a glowing wand. Instead, he used his words: “He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.” John’s job was to point people to Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.
But some people had questions. Some of the religious officials from Jerusalem came to John and asked him who he was. John told them, “I am not the Christ.” “Then who are you,” they asked. John told them that he wasn’t Elijah, nor the special prophet they were waiting for, nor anyone else that had come to mind for them. He told them, “I am a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” John never lost focus on who he was. He never lost focused on Jesus Christ, The Light of the World, the person he was supposed to witness about to others. He didn’t let those people distract him or sidetrack him from his job: “I am a witness. I testify concerning the light of the world.”