Reflections: The Third Sunday in Advent

December 17, 2023  

Today’s Reading: John 1.6-8, 19-28

Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 33:1-24; Revelations 5:1-14

He [John] was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. (John 1:8)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. John the apostle gets right to work with John the Baptist in our reading today. There’s no annunciation by an angel, no mute Zechariah, no leaping in Elizabeth’s womb. John the prophet, the preacher, sent from God to proclaim His Word to His people.

The people of Israel, God’s chosen people certainly must have felt God had forgotten them. Like they had lost their identity. Stumbling from empire to empire, wondering when God will be the God of His promises, the God who had delivered them in the past. When will He deliver them now?

We can relate to this. Often our daily lives have similar stresses, similar identity crises. When a parent or loved one becomes sick or hurt beyond recovery. When the to do list seems to never end and school work, house work, your job just continues to pile on overwhelmingly. When we see tragedies, and disasters happen at home and around the world. We feel lost, and often wonder “Where is God?”, “Has He forgotten me?”.

Beloved child of God, your Father in heaven has not forgotten you, just as He had not forgotten His chosen people Israel. Maybe it has been awhile since you have been in church, heard His Word. Received His gifts. Know that your Pastor, or the Pastor in your community is delighted to give them to you. Just like John the Baptist, He is not the Light, but He bears witness about the Light. Even more so your pastor is given to you by God Himself to give you Jesus. Who is the Light of the world, the Christ, the one promised and foretold by Isaiah and all of Scripture who is the fulfillment of God’s promises for you.  Who on the cross gave His Body and poured out His Blood for you, as the very lamb who was slain. To cover your sin, to cover your suffering, and brokenness. 

So you know that you do not walk alone through the challenges of this life. Your identity is not given legitimacy by this world, that is always changing. No, your identity is yours in Christ who has washed you and united you in the waters of your Baptism, and united you to Himself in His body, and blood that you are given to eat and to drink. That is your strength, your assurance, that the one who will come whose sandal strap John the Baptist is not fit to untie”. Is the one who has come, is with you now, and will come again. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers and to lighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

-Vicar Justin Chester is vicar at Shepherd of the City in Fort Wayne, IN.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Jonathan Lackey is the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, Vine Grove, Ky.

Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.