The Holy Gospel: December 09, 2012 (Year C)

Read:  Luke 3:1-6

Meditation:  “Setting the Stage”

Significant occasions are almost always preceded by special preparations.  Hold-the-date cards often provide the first indication that something important is going to take place.  Invitations follow giving more details.  In the meantime, people are hard at work executing all sorts of plans.  Finally, “the big day” arrives and everyone celebrates.

The season of Advent gives us advance notice that something important is about to happen.  We have time to get ready if we use the days wisely.

But beyond the gift of time, we find the ministry of preparation happening in the life and ministry of John the Baptist—God’s prophet to “prepare the way of the Lord.”

Today, I want to ask you to do a simple thing.  I want to ask you to remember your own “John the Baptist”—the person (or persons) who prepared the way of the Lord for you.

As we look back, we can see one or more people whom God used to do that in our lives.  The third Sunday in Advent is a good time to recall that person (or persons), and give thanks to God for them.  Pause right now and prayerfully remember your “John the Baptist.”

But because Advent is also a time between the times, the next step in our meditation is to commit ourselves to being a “John the Baptist” for others.  We often think of effective witnessing as leading people to faith in Jesus Christ—being the agent God uses to “seal the deal” and be a mid-wife in someone’s new birth.  And when that happens, it is surely a wonderful thing—a moment we will never forget.

But there is another role for us to play—the role of John the Baptist.  In that role we have the opportunity to prepare the way for Christ’s coming into the life of a person at a later time.  We won’t be present when most of those “conversion moments” happen, but years from now when folks think about who their “John the Baptist” was, they will think of us.

Rarely does anyone come to faith in Christ apart from those willing to “set the stage.”  Are you willing to be such a person for others?


About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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