Third Sunday Of Advent - We All Have Our Role To Play
Today is the Second Sunday of Advent.
Advent is not just a season of expectation; it's a season of preparation.
And what exactly are we preparing for?
Change? Transformation? New Life?
Do we want to be better people? Do we want the world to be a better place?
All of the above, right?
The Advent season reminds those who find our home in the Christian tradition that it all comes down to Jesus. Jesus makes all the difference---not only for us but for the whole world.
Before we explore our lectionary text for this Sunday, I just need to say something.
There are a lot of Advent calendars out there now. I mean a lot. Let me show you some of the ones I've discovered:
Images of Advent Calendars
What do we make of all this? Is it just commercialism? A way for companies to cash in on the season, by using something that builds on the anticipation of Christmas? Or is it something else?
What if the anticipation these calendars represent is connected to a more profound desire for hope? What if there is a longing that these companies are tapping into either intentionally or instinctively?
Here's what I think: The idea of God becoming one of us—the idea of Jesus reflects a universal longing for rescue, restoration, and new life…
So why do we struggle to do everything we can to point to that? If this is true, then what or who we are pointing to shouldn't offend people or create discomfort---it should offer them hope and lead to peace.
We all have a role to play in this, and we need to have the courage and the love to play our part and to point to the One who came to fulfill that universal longing for rescue.
Today’s Advent reading tells the story of how John the Baptist came to grips with the role he was called to fulfill—and became Jesus’ disciple.
2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[a] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,who will prepare your way before you.’[b]11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
A lot is going on in this passage, but first, let's address the question that John the Baptists asks from his prison cell---the question that so many of us keep asking about Jesus:
"Are you the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?"
Are you the Christ? Are you for real? Who are you, really?
These are the questions that are still being asked about Jesus today.
And interestingly, Jesus' reply speaks directly to our own questions, just as it did to John's. Jesus says to John's messengers:
“Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[a] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
Jesus' reply is born from experience, witness, and transformation. It speaks to a new reality--signs and symbols of how the world ought to be and one day will be when shalom permeates all of Creation as God intends it.
At this moment, John realizes anew that his role was and continues to be to point to Christ--he was a messenger, but more importantly, he was a follower. Jesus alludes to this with his final assessment of John, and how God's kingdom works--where everyone has a role to play.
How Do We Point To Jesus More Effectively
1. We need to know who Jesus is for us---have you ever really answered that question? Who is Jesus for you? Why is this important? Because it gives us clarity around how we want to live our lives--if Jesus is Lord, it changes things. Has Jesus transformed us?
2. We need to believe who Jesus can be for others--do we really think that Jesus can make a difference in the lives of others? Then why aren't we acting like it? What's stopping us from sharing the most fantastic news we have ever received? The experience of transformation we've felt ought to be shared, right?
We need to show how Jesus can transform the world, one heart at a time--it starts with us in the end. If we can live and love like Jesus and change the world around us, our work, school, family, and friends, the transformation that can occur is fantastic.