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Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel! God is here!
The Fourth Sunday in Advent
Bulletin: Bulletin December 19 2021
Newsletter: Weekly Letter December 19 2021
Scriptures: Philippians 4:4-7; Psalm 19:1-6; John 1:19-28
It is easy to get caught up in the busyness of the season – shopping for gifts, beautiful concerts, holiday get-togethers with friends and co-workers, decorating the tree, hair appointments, mounds of baking, crafts with the kids, light displays, trips to see loved ones, family gatherings, pictures with Santa, the extra gift to charity, the annual Christmas letter and photo…and all those things. While these things can each be wonderful, we would do well to pause for a moment to remember that all these things can fill our days and minds to the point where we miss Jesus’ invitation to welcome him into our hearts and into every moment of our lives.
On our fourth and final Sunday of Advent, we are invited to look out for, and recognize, Emmanuel, God with us. Prepare to rejoice, and truly celebrate, when we see Jesus – not only in remembering the birth of Jesus at Christmas but also in anticipating the Lord’s return. But don’t stop there. Rejoice even now, as we await Jesus, because we know God’s promises are trustworthy.
John the Baptist was confident that he was preparing the way for Jesus. He gave up many privileges of this life in order to faithfully and confidently tell others that Jesus was coming and was already in their midst, even though they did not yet recognize him. John had been attuned to recognize Jesus right from the time he was a baby in his mother’s womb.
The first chapter of Luke tells us that John’s mother, Elizabeth, felt the baby leap within her when Mary arrived at her home carrying the Lord Jesus in her womb. At that moment, Elizabeth, through her baby, recognized how blessed Mary was, to be given the task of carrying the Lord Jesus as her son. I wonder how it was that John, not yet born himself, recognized the babe growing within the virgin Mary?
Fast forward to when John was an adult. As a young man of about 33, he traveled about the countryside, telling people they needed to repent from the way they had been living, and baptizing them with water if they longed to follow God. He lived a rugged life and proclaimed the coming of Jesus. Despite John’s and Jesus’ mothers being cousins, it appears that the boys grew up apart from each other. John himself says that he did not know Jesus until he saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. Yet, at that moment, John again recognizes Jesus and points others to Him.