Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
To hear your voice
To listen deeply to what you say,
To see what you do.
By your Spirit help me
To hear your voice
To see you
Third Sunday of Advent
The lectionary readings for this third week of Advent bring us into that noisy and uncomfortable space where we find ourselves doubting that following Jesus is worth believing in. After all, look at the world around us. What difference does it make? Is Jesus making a difference?
John the Baptist is experiencing wilderness of a different kind. He is in prison—at Herod’s choosing. In the confines of his prison cell, away from the wide-open skies and landscapes of the Judean desert, he wonders. After all, isn’t this Jesus supposed to take charge and make life better? If Jesus is truly the long-awaited Messiah, what is he, John, doing in prison? Why does Jesus concede such power to the selfish whims and distorted ways of King Herod?
John decides to send some of his followers to Jesus, to give voice to the doubts he is carrying in his soul: “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” This very one who a short time before had been standing on the rocky ground of the wilderness, crying out: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,” is now losing his own way. His own inner paths have become twisted, dim, unsure. And so he turns to Jesus for guidance.
When Jesus hears John’s questions he is aware of this prophet’s imprisonment, knows this man’s heart, and is fully aware that it is because of John’s faithfulness to God that he now sits behind bars. Jesus also knows the temptation he himself experienced in the wilderness, to use his powers to bring about a political coup in order to make the world instantly better. But that is not the way of this wilderness king and Messiah. Hence the response Jesus gives to these disciples to take back to this rugged prophet John:
“Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind receive their sight,
the lame walk,
the lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have good news brought to them.
And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” (Matthew 11:4-6)
The way of Jesus the Messianic King is to bring release and healing to us, to tend our wounds, our needs. The good news is that Jesus comes to set us free from the anxious grasp of the world’s ways. The good news is that Jesus will bring healing and restoration to all of creation.
Advent is a season for waiting, for listening, for hope beyond the current headlines.
The prophet Isaiah speaks into this time of waiting, directing our attention to this coming One, calling us who doubt to “strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.” To “Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.’” (Isaiah 35:1-10) James also comes alongside, inviting us to “Be patient, . . . beloved, until the coming of the Lord. . . . Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.” We are in good company as we wait—the prophets, including John the Baptizer, also wait with us for God to make all things new when Jesus comes again. (James 5:7-10) As we wait, listen as Mary sings her song of hope and joy. (Luke 1:46-55)
You come to us
In the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Help me to be present to you –
To be with you,
To listen —
With the ears of my heart.
Continue to free me from the stuff of this world, which holds me captive.
Lead me in your Way of life.
Prayer before reading:
Help me to hear your call
Wake me up
Help me to wait
By your Spirit, may I hear
Help me to be awake for the visitation of your messengers,
And ready for how you come
As a baby
As our Savior.
Read slowly. Listen deeply. Indwell the scripture.
THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT
- 12/6 Monday: Matthew 11:2-6
- 12/7 Tuesday: Matthew 11:7-11
- 12/8 Wednesday: Luke 1:46-55
- 12/9 Thursday: James 5:7-10
- 12/10 Friday: Isaiah 35:1-10
- 12/11 Saturday: Matthew 11:1-6
- 12/12 Sunday: Matthew 11:7-11