Our December 5 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. We are excited to say that our Sunday 8 & 10:30 am services are open again for in-person worship. Services will continue to be streamed online.
The December 12 Sunday worship service as well as the December 8 Advent service will be held with in-person attendance. We have returned to regular in-person worship services. With an upturn in county COVID cases, we recommend masks even for those who are vaccinated.
We are glad to share our worship with you. Click on “Contact Us” above to find out more about our faith family and what we believe.
Malachi 3:1-4 | Luke 1:68-79
Philippians 1:3-11 | Luke 3:1-6
We see it out in the roadways all of the time. When you drive down the street, and see someone spraying different colored paint on the road. You know that someone is planning on tearing up something. Someone has put spray paint, in different colors, all over my daughter’s front yard. I haven’t told her about it. Maybe she has noticed. No, she probably hasn’t. But something is about to happen around her home. I’ll let it be a surprise. Then, the orange cones make their appearance, like those in front of my daughter’s neighbor’s house. Work is being done. See, it has already started. But there was some preparation. It may sneak up on you. It may be almost imperceptible. But progress is often slow, sometimes, you may not even realize it moving forward.
The key is that someone has got to do the ground work, the grunt work. In Malachi, the prophet (interestingly, the word “Malachi” just means “my messenger,” Malachi probably wasn’t the author’s name) says, that someone who is coming not to be the Messiah, but to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. What the Jews will call the perceive as the long-awaited return of Elijah, to usher in the Messianic Age. He is not the Messiah, God’s chosen one, but rather the one who is to get things ready. In Luke’s lesson, which takes place about 460 years after the writing of Malachi, we hear the call to John the Baptist. By the way, all of the lessons today are about John the Baptist, not Jesus. It is John the Baptist who is the one who performs this function as Luke quotes from Isaiah 40. That was about 600ish years earlier. And you thought that work on roads and highways takes a long time! The long-awaited messenger took centuries! And, he isn’t even the Messiah! But it happened, slowly and steadily, literally in God’s own good time. And Christians will say that John is Elijah returned performing the task of preparing the way.
It is John’s task to prepare the way for the One who is coming. He must go out to tell the people to make the path straight for the coming of the one who is greater than he. It is John who performs the ground work, to make us ready for the coming One. And, John’s proclamation does sound a lot like what they do when they lay out big road work jobs; “valleys filled, hills and mountains made low, the crooked made straight and the rough ways made smooth.” In Advent, we look to John’s signs. When we see him in the lessons, we know that Jesus is coming soon. He declares the signs which tell us that something is about to take place. We hear his cry of a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Hallmarks and preparations of the baptism which we share, baptism into the Christ who is coming, a baptism of grace, where forgiveness of sins is poured out upon us, as well as the promises of everlasting salvation and eternal life. As we share in the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for whose return we await in this Advent season with even greater anticipation, when “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
But we must remember as we read the appointed lessons today, that it was John who God chose to prepare the way, to mark the road, to spray paint our hearts with Christmas anticipation, and to get us ready, to announce the Advent of Christ. I think of John the Baptist as, Mr. Advent. So that we might be equipped to receive Christ as He comes to us. With John in the lessons, we know that Christ is not far behind as he surely comes. First, as he comes as the babe laid in the manger, then as our Risen Lord and Savior, the Son of the Living God.
It took time, it took effort, it took preparation, but then, all worthwhile things do. Let us prepare in this season, as Isaiah, Malachi and John foretold, to receive Christ, as he comes to us at Christmastide, and even now, as he comes to us in his Holy Supper, a foretaste of the feast to come. The one who is and who was and who is to come.