Reflections: December 20, 2020
The Fourth Sunday in Advent
By Bradley Drew
They asked him, "Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" (John 1:25)
In the Name + of Jesus. Ever wonder why elves spend so much time putting tags on the presents that will soon appear under the Christmas tree? It's because they want us to know who the gift is from and who it is for. John the Baptist is one of those tags God puts on Jesus. So grand is the gift being given, God does not want anyone missing out. So, he sends a tag that announces--From: God. To: you.
John, of course, was not the Gift. Though Jesus would identify John as the greatest among those born of women, John would confess he was not even worthy to untie the strap on Jesus' sandal. Jesus is the Gift. Jesus alone is life as God created it to be. Jesus alone is love for God with all His heart, all His soul, and all His mind. Jesus alone is love for neighbor as for self. Jesus alone is holy. Though John could sacrifice himself a thousand times, his death could not atone for all sin, let alone for a single sin of his own. Or ours. Only Jesus' death can do that for us.
And it has. For God has taken our sin, all of our sin, and placed it on Jesus, the sinless One. Whatever would make God declare you unworthy in His sight, unworthy of His goodness, His love, even His sandal, Jesus atoned for it by His death for you on the Cross. You are worthy now, declares that death. In fact, that death promises you are now as much God's child as that Baby to be born later this week. For you. Jesus. He is the Gift.
When considering your worthiness before God, do not look at yourself. Look at Jesus. And while you look under the tree this Christmas, look also at the Tree of the Cross and see all God has promised you there: the One who died for you, the One born of Mary, the Son of God.
So amazing is the Gift being given, that God does not want anyone missing out on it. So He places tags on the Gift. One of those tags is Baptism. Another is Holy Absolution. Another is the preaching of the Gospel. Another is Holy Communion. And all announce--From: God. To: you. Yes, Christmas year-round for you, because of Jesus year-round for you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come and help us by Your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by Your grace and mercy; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for the Fourth Sunday in Advent)
-Rev. Bradley Drew is the pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Metairie, LA.
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