Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Inviting Johnny B. to Christmas

I'm working on my sermon for Sunday based on John 1:6-8, 19-28. (Please note that there are two links there if you intend to read the whole text.)

As I read this, I can't help but find myself a little envious of the Baptizer. If ever there was a man who knew his place in the Kingdom of God, it was John. Scripture had told him what he was to be; and even before he was born, he was doing what he was supposed to be doing: pointing to Christ and saying, "There He is! He's the one!" His entire life was spent in preparation for the culmination of his role as the final prophet of the Old Testament Church. When people came to find out what this John guy was all about, all he said was, "I am not the Christ." When he was forced to expand on that answer, even that answer pointed away from himself to the Word of God and to the Christ whose way John had come to prepare. His final word on the matter was, "He must increase, but I must decrease." I can't imagine any this was easy, even with his role clearly laid out for him; but I do envy him that foreknowledge, especially as I struggle with my current vocational black hole.

Christ said, "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist." Truly, only a great man could look at himself and say with no deceit and no vanity, "I must decrease." In this Christmas season, when so many things would have us puff up our own importance, may we all be able to say with John, "[Christ] must increase; I must decrease."

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