Scripture Reading — Luke 3:1-18
“He will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah … to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
—Luke 1:17 —
Is it time to panic? Gifts to buy, meals to prepare, concerts to hear, cards to send—can it all be wrapped up in the remaining days before Christmas?
John the Baptist can help. His message of repentance and seeking to live as God calls us to is as vital for us today as for his listeners two thousand years ago. John speaks out plainly and with urgency to get people ready for Jesus’ coming.
When I listen to John speak, I see a man with practical answers for everyone: tax accountants, law enforcement officers, people who buy and sell in the marketplace, people who have more than they need. John tells them to do right: give away that extra food; be honest; don’t take advantage of the weak or the poor; don’t accuse people falsely; be content. John applies the command to “love your neighbor” in practical ways that are open to everyone. “And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.”
John went ahead of Jesus to say that there is forgiveness for all who earnestly seek to live God’s way. Jesus opens a gift of grace and love that is big enough for a world full of sinners. Even if you have nothing baked or bought for Christmas, that gift is wrapped and ready for you!
“O Lord, how shall I meet you, how welcome you aright? Your people long to greet you, my hope, my heart’s de-light! Oh, kindle, Lord most holy, your lamp within my breast, to do in spirit lowly, all that may please you best.” Amen.