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Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet

by davesandel on December 16th, 2021

Thursday, December 16, 2021                                   (today’s lectionary)

Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet

He who has become your husband is your Maker; his name is the Lord of hosts. Your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, called God of all the earth. The Lord calls you back.

And now, it is Mary to whom Isaiah speaks, as Yahweh sends his words over centuries to his chosen one. She listens, she receives the Holy Spirit, the baby begins his time within her womb. I imagine God wonders if he’s done the right thing.

But no, surely not. His mind is made up.

Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

So the baby grows, in silence within Mary’s body. She visits her cousin Elizabeth, whose baby “leaped in her womb” as his own cousin approached. Neither of them had been born, but already their bond was deeper than blood.

I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John.

Jesus knew his cousin not through play dates, but through the intuition and vision given to both of them by their Father in heaven. Consequently, they were serious young men, called to a purpose beyond the understanding of even their disciples. Neither of them could protect the other, but both of them were under the blessing and spiritual umbrella of their Father. Earthly protection, like physical death, fell short as these two babies, then two boys, and finally two men turned the world around them upside down.

Yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.

When John heard his cousin’s words, I am sure he knew what Jesus meant. “My kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus said. Neither was John’s. To be God’s cousin is complicated, I guess. But neither John nor Jesus thought like that. Their bond, forged on earth with human blood, followed them into heaven.

What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom Scripture says: “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.

Fleming Rutledge preached, “I have never seen a picture of John the Baptist on any Advent calendar, yet he is the foremost figure of Advent … All four New Testament evangelists agree: there is no good news, no gospel of Jesus Christ, without John the Baptist.”  John “forces us to look into the dark heart of the enemy, which is to say, our own hearts, and to tend the fire that burns for the coming Savior.”

This was the purpose of John’s path of preparation for Jesus, and today this is the purpose of Advent for us. Not to prepare for Christmas so much as to recognize the forces that “reveal our distortion and need for redemption.”

It’s not that the baby becomes the Christ; it’s that the Christ becomes a baby. All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the Spheres. This is my Father’s world.

 (Isaiah 54, Psalm 30, Luke 3, Luke 7)

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