St. Paul’s Lutheran Church has made the difficult decision to pause our in-person Services until further notice. The Lord bless you and keep you.


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Third Sunday in Advent

December 13, 2020 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Advent

Passage: John 1:6–1:8, John 1:19–1:28

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: John 1:6-8, 19-28
Date: December 13, 2020; Advent 3; Series B
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • While I served my vicarage at First Lutheran Church in Windsor, ON - Natalie and I had the opportunity to go visit New York City - the Big Apple.
  • We saw and experienced a lot of amazing things, but I’m sure that if you ask Natalie what the highlight of that trip was for her, she would answer that it was being in the audience of a taping of The Martha Stewart Show.  
  • She’s a huge fan and it was a thrill for her to be in the same building as Martha!
  • It took us over 2 hours from the time we arrived at the studio to the time we got to our seats.  
  • When we finally got in, I glanced around and saw that the audience was filled with energy and expectation - there was a lot of excitement in the air!  
  • Just a little while longer and we would see Martha!
  • But first a comedian by the name of Joey Kola came out to entertain us.  
  • Joey told us a few jokes and a few interesting facts about Martha and the show.  
  • He also told us about what we were to expect once the show started and he instructed us on how we were to behave - when we were to clap and cheer and when we were to be silent.
  • I enjoyed the 10 or so minutes that Joey entertained us. 
  • But I also felt a bit sorry for him.  
  • Nobody really wanted to see Joey Kola or really cared too much about what he had to say.  
  • Everyone wanted to see Martha.  She was the reason everyone was there.
  • Joey Kola’s only job was to warm us up before Martha’s grand entrance.  
  • He was just to prepare us for the show - to let us know what we should expect.  
  • I’m sure that was not what he wanted when he decided to go into show business.
  • Like everyone else who moves to New York or Hollywood to become a performer, he wanted to become wealthy and famous.  
  • But instead, his job was to prepare the way for Martha Stewart.  
  • It takes a lot of humility to do a job like this.  To deflect the attention from yourself to another.
  • I share this with you because I thought of Joey Kola as I considered John the Baptist in our Gospel reading.
  • Like Joey Kola, John’s only job was to prepare the way for someone else.  
  • John was really stirring things up out in the wilderness.
  • We heard in last week’s Gospel lesson that “all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.”    
  • People recognized that John was sent from God and crowds gathered to him.  
  • It would have been easy for him to soak in all of the attention, to feel important as he was surrounded by the crowds.
  • But John knew who he was. He knew why God had sent him.  
  • It was not to draw attention to himself – it was only to bear witness about the Light.  
  • To prepare the way.
  • He made this very clear when he responded to the religious delegate from Jerusalem who were sent to investigate him.
  • “Who are you?”  “Are you Elijah?”  “Are you a prophet?”  “You need to give us an answer because we need to give answer to those who sent us!”    
  • The priests and Levites wanted to know who this guy thought he was claiming to speak and act on behalf of God.  
  • They were the religious leaders of the day and nobody consulted them about what was going on.
  • John answered, “No, I am not the Christ. I am not Elijah. I am not a prophet. I am simply the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’      
  • The group from Jerusalem was not satisfied with John’s answer.  “Fine, if you aren’t Elijah, nor the Prophet, then who do you think you are baptizing people in the Jordan?” 
  • Again, John responds with complete humility. “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know - I am not even worthy to untie the strap of the sandal of the one who is to come after me.” 
  • Like Joey Kola, John the Baptist was the warm-up act. He was to gather and focus the people’s attention on Jesus.
  • And that’s exactly what he did. 
  • Maybe we see this most when he pointed to Jesus and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
  • John prepared the way for the Christ to enter the world by calling people to repentance.  
  • And his thunderous shout still rings out today: Repent!
  • Repent of your sin. Don’t hide it. Don’t rationalize it. Don’t ignore it or make excuses. Don’t blame others for it.
  • Repent.
  • Repentance is the only thing we can do with our sin.
  • We confess it.  We admit it.  We take responsibility for it.  
  • In repentance we lay all of our sin and darkness before God - and the Light of the world, Christ Jesus, removes it from us.  
  • Hear John the Baptist speaking to you this morning.
  • Hear him preparing the way by calling you to repentance.
  • Hear him as he points to Jesus and boldly proclaims, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Who takes away your sin.
  • Jesus bore your sin on the cross and his light has replaced the darkness of your sin.
  • Our sin has been taken away, removed, and that means that we will not suffer the eternal consequences that our sin deserves.
  • Instead, we will enjoy eternal life together basking in the warmth and love of God’s light.
  • There will be no more darkness of pain, and suffering, and death.  
  • No more wars and violence, no more injustice, no more injuries, and disease, and pandemics. No more death.
  • Prepare the way of the Lord and receive this Light, this gift of salvation and eternal life that Christ has won for you.
  • Rejoice and give thanks that in the waters of your baptism your whole spirit and soul and body is kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • John the Baptizer was sent by God to prepare the world for Jesus’ first coming. 
  • The Church, which includes you and me, has been sent to prepare the world for Jesus’ final coming.  
  • We too are very much part of God’s plan of salvation for the world. 
  • As we love and serve the people that God has put in our lives, as we share the hope that we have in Christ, as we proclaim to the world that God’s love, forgiveness, and promise of eternal life through the Messiah Jesus is theirs too – God’s plan of salvation is being carried out.
  • What a privilege and honour it is to be part of God’s plan.
  • What hope we have knowing that God’s plans cannot be stopped - that his plan of salvation will surely prevail! 
  • So rejoice!  Rejoice always in the salvation that is yours in Christ!  Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

More in Advent

December 20, 2020

Fourth Sunday in Advent

December 16, 2020

Midweek Advent Service

December 6, 2020

Second Sunday in Advent