Third Sunday in Advent

Third Sunday of Advent
December 12, 2010: Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146:5-10 or Luke 1:46b-5;5; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11

Isaiah 35:4-7
“3 Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
‘Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.’

5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
7 the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

Matthew 11:2-11: “When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ 4 Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 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. 6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’

7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9 What then 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, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.” 11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Third Sunday of Advent Comment: There is one thing I love about this New Testament narration is that John the Baptizer frees me to doubt. John and Jesus were cousins. Mary, Jesus’ mother was present at John’s birth. They grew up with together. While growing up, John probably heard comments that Jesus was different. It is quite possible that John along with his parents Zachariah and Elizabeth were in the caravan that went to Jerusalem the time when Jesus was left behind. Someone might have mentioned in John’s presence about how his parents found Jesus, at age twelve, discussing Torah with the scribes.

Then, in the river Jordan, John recognized Jesus as the Lamb of God and baptized him. Now after all this time and all these events, John doubts that Jesus is Messiah. What circumstances have to come together to generate this powerful emotion? Surely, imprisonment is high on the list! However, imprisonment as a mental metaphor can also produce doubt that partners with its cousin, fear. “I didn’t expect it to take so long; did I choose wrong?” You planned so carefully; why is there so much turmoil?” They promised, didn’t they?”

This text can assures me and hopefully you that whenever we feel uncertain, we can acknowledge the doubt, without guilt. In the voice of Isaiah, God says, “Do not be afraid.” And Jesus told his disciples to tell John that what Isaiah promised about the Messiah, I am doing, “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.”

Faithfulness is the cure for doubt!

Oh God, during this Advent remind us when there seems to be no earthly reason to doubt, you came from heaven personally to tell us that you are faithful to keep your promises, eternally.

Advent Blessings,
Rev. Julia
©December 10, 2010

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