John 1:6-8, 19-28: There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord” ’, as the prophet Isaiah said.
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, ‘Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’ John answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.’ This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.
What to preach? The Gospel for the second straight week is about John the Baptist, this time the version from John, as opposed to last week’s story from Mark. The Epistle is one of those nice concluding passages from Thessalonians; reads nice but not much meat for a sermon.
On one of the commentary sites I check online, I find a reference to the fact in John’s Gospel, John the Baptist comes to “testify” about Jesus. Now there is a word sure to make Anglicans uncomfortable. But it stuck with me, “What would I testify about Jesus? It sounds easy, but the words just didn’t seem to want to form.
After much thought and prayer, by late Saturday night I sort of had an idea about what my testimony might be. Only as I stood on Sunday did the Spirit guide my lips. First, God (read Jesus) is the Creator. We own nothing, control nothing, it all belongs to the one who created it.
Second, there is a plan. Jesus knows where this is all going. Me, I’m most often in the road.
Third Jesus is unconditional love. Jesus loves me as much at the moment of my greatest mistake, that time that I think is unforgivable, as the moment I think I am at my best helping others. Though I walk thousands of steps away, it is only one step back to Jesus. Jesus is grace! I can earn nothing, it is all freely given to me and that is a hard concept. Jesus loves all people of all walks of life. He loves them all the same. There is much more that I could say, but rather during this final week of Advent, as we think of Jesus’ coming and coming again, would you spend some time thinking about your testimony. What is it you believe about Jesus Christ? What shapes your life and life and your life and your life and your faith?
The Rev. Canon Keith Nethery