Isaiah 61 1-4,6-11 Psalm 126 Thessalonians 5 12-28 John 1 6-8.19-28
+In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit Amen.
“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the broken-hearted,to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour “
St Luke tells us that Jesus quoted these words in the synagogue in Nazareth where he was brought up as the scroll was handed to him and he read the reading for the day (Luke 4 18=19)
As he read to the people in the synagogue, he stopped in the middle of the second verse after the words: to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” Rolling up the scroll he said
"Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” The next phrase “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion
to give them a garland instead of ashes, and so on.”
Will come true when Jesus returns to earth again. We are now under God’s favour. His wrath is yet to come.
How is it that we have such readings when we are talking about this Third Sunday of Advent being one of Joy” In a world where there is despair, where depression rates run high, where there has been so much sadness and loss in war, famine and financial strife. Where is the Joy?
We realise from this morning’s psalm that God’s ability to restore life is beyond our understanding. Forests burn down and can grow back. Broken bones heal, even grief is not a permanent condition. Our tears can be seeds, that will grow into a harvest of joy, because God is able to bring good out of tragedy. When burdened by sorrow we know that our times of grief will end, and that we will again find joy. We like the first century Christians all need to come face to face with our mortality but let us not be disheartened. While we wait for the Lord’s second coming, we need not be weighted down by all the floom, but can we be looking forward eagerly in case he comes sooner than we expect?
In the Gospel reading we find the apostle John speaking of darkness and light and the story of John the Baptist. We like John the Baptist are not the source of God’s light. We merely reflect that light. Jesus Christ is the true light; he helps us see our way to God and shows sus how to walk along that way.
Christ has chosen to reflect his light through his followers to an unbelieving world. Could it be that unbelievers are not able to bear the full blazing glory of his light firsthand? The Pharisees had a lot of trouble working out who John was, for various reasons, but John was emphasizing only why he had come, which was to prepare the way for the Messiah. The Pharisees missed the point. Whey wanted to know who John was, but John wanted them to know who Jesus was.
The words in John 1:8 “To testify to the light” indicates our role as reflectors of Christ’s light. We are not to present ourselves as the light to others, but are always to point them to Christ, the light. The way we can do that is by our own lives. Can we reflect God’s justice and righteousness? Can we reflect God’s love? For the early Christians, to be a follower of Christ meant to give up everything and dedicate their lives to Christ. We see less people doing this now as seen in the shortage of priests, lay ministers and others who serve in various capacities. However, can we realise that the Christian life is to be lived not in our own capacity, but through God’s power. And we can count on God’s constant help because we are living under God’s favour now.