Dec 15, 2019
Third Sunday of Advent
When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 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. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.”
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? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 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.’ 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.”
Something to Do
Stand with Political Prisoners
John the Baptist was in prison because he told King Herod that divorcing his wife and marrying his sister-in-law was not acceptable behaviour.
Speaking truth to power is still dangerous. Join with Amnesty International to write a letter on behalf of a young person who is suffering the consequences of standing up for what is right as part of their December Write for Rights campaign.
Go and tell what you hear and see
Jesus answers John the Baptist’s question with instructions to the disciples to report what they witness Jesus doing – acts of compassion, healing, and justice.
This work is still going on. Notice it, give thanks to God for it, and help other people notice it, too. There is enough bad news in the world – let’s pay attention to the good news for a while!
Something to Wonder
Are you the one who is to come or…?
Have you ever waited a really long time for something to happen – an answer to come to you, perhaps, or an opportunity? And when it came, did you know for sure this was it or did you wonder if you were supposed to keep waiting?
How did you decide what to do or what to think?
How do you think John the Baptist felt about Jesus?
Hopeful? Worried? Scared? Happy?
How do you think his disciples felt about Jesus?
What did you go out into the wilderness to look at?
Jesus is pointing out that John the Baptist is exactly what he should be – a strong, somewhat scary prophet in the wilderness – so no one should be surprised by him. In fact, he is precisely what they were all looking for in the first place. And yet, Jesus seems to imply, people are disapproving of John’s wildness and use it as an excuse to ignore him.
Have you ever had the experience of “well, what did you expect?!” If so, what was the context? How did you respond?
Something to Learn
John the Baptist – Hopepunk
As promised in last Sunday’s sermon, here is the link to the article that introduced me to the concept of “hopepunk”
Waiting and Resistance: Advent and Star Wars by the Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell
“Advent isn’t just about waiting for Christmas, waiting to place the baby in the manger in our Nativity crèches. Advent is about resisting the empire around us—the empire of consumerism and consumption, the empire of majority that pushes minorities to the margins. Advent is about resisting the “War on Christmas” and instead saving what we love: that the Word became flesh and lived among us.”
A Crash Course in the Gospel according to Matthew
The Bible Project’s videos on Matthew’s Gospel give an entertaining and helpful overview of the whole book and some helpful background on the author and their community.
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.