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No Greater Calling

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No Greater Calling

The Third Sunday of Advent

No Greater Calling

Thank you for John the Baptist who helped prepare the way for your first Advent of the Christ. We thank you for helping prepare the way for the second Advent, whenever that might be. May we, like John, be your faithful disciples. Amen. John the Baptist we call him – he was kind of a strange fellow – although there were others like him back in that day, but John the Baptist was an aesthetic, and he was a guy of denial, and a guy who was driven by purpose.


How many of you have is a New Year’s resolution. Maybe the most famous of them all, your goal is to lose weight next year. You don’t have to show your hands but maybe some of you that is your goal.


Well, what did John the Baptist eat – Locust and wild honey. I guarantee you if you go on that diet, you will lose weight.


John the Baptist may by modern day standards appear to be a strange or weird type of a fellow, but he was extremely strong individual. In our gospel lesson we note that he’s being questioned and to be sure the questioning was not done out of good.


It was an attempt by the priests and the scribes to try to discredit John. They’re saying, “Who are you, come on let us have an answer! Are you Elijah,or are you another Prophet? Who are you?”


He says,” I’m the voice of one crying out in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord.” He’s saying, make straight for the Lord’s coming or Advent among us.


The Pharisees enter into the picture and they start questioning him and really attacking him. They ask, “What’s this baptism? Who authorized you to do that?” But notice how John deflects the attack and takes the issue right to Christ. There’s one coming after me and you know what guys I am not even worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.


What humbleness on the part of John.  You see, he was not just the forerunner, but kind of the trailblazer. Creating that path for Jesus to walk behind him. John was witnessing to Jesus, and John knows his place. He knows Jesus’ place, and that he’s not fit to untie the guy’s sandal.


Later, he’ll tell us, Jesus must increase while I, John, must decrease. John recognized as we say in the great prologue to John’s gospel that, Jesus is the light of the world. So, John prepared the way for Jesus’ first Advent or coming among us.


We are blessed and we prepare the way for the second coming of Our Lord. Now the difference is that the Messiah was right on the heels of John the Baptist for that first coming. We don’t know when the second coming will be and as I said in a sermon a few weeks ago, don’t spend time trying to figure it out. You won’t get the answer and only the father knows.


The point is, that in this indeterminant period of time between the two comings of Jesus the one we’ll celebrate next week the during the 12 Days of Christmas and the second coming, whenever that might be, we are to remain our Lord’s faithful disciples.


So how do we do that? That’s the question. How do we do it? Like John, may we be strong in our convictions, may we be faithful, and may we be humble and receive further guidance from St Paul.


What does Paul tell us in that lesson from Thessalonians? Rejoice always. Do you always feel like rejoicing? Maybe not. Some were even at the Blue Christmas service that we did last Sunday evening.


We have our times of Sorrow, our times of sadness, our times of stress, worry and anxiety, and our times of dealing with grief and loss in our lives. So, we’re not always going to be real bubbly. Bubbles aren’t always going to be coming out of our noses and our ears but when you think about it, when you think about what this means, this stuff that we talk about in the church, that God creates us through the Father, redeems us in the Son, sanctifies us and sustains us in the Holy Spirit. God is always with us. God loves us and cares about us. God helps us through the difficult times in life. God has prepared an eternal home for us.


How can we help but be joyful Christians! We should be people of joy, and that’s what the third candle on the Advent Wreath symbolizes. Joy. There should be a joy that permeates our very beings that is within us that is the main stay emotion for us.


As our Lord’s disciples, further Paul tells us to pray incessantly or pray without ceasing as the text says it, to be a prayerful people is what we are called to be and in prayer we are aware of God’s presence in our lives. So, the God who moves us to pray in the first place is the one who’s

there and that we address as we are being addressed in our prayer lives.


So, yes praying should be a major staple in a Christian’s life. It shouldn’t be just something we do on Sundays when we come together in community. We should do it each and every

Day. How much are you praying? When you pray where do you pray? How do you pray?


If you’re thinking, boy I need to improve on that, make that a New Year’s resolution and one that you’ll stick with.


Paul tells us to be thankful people. That ties right in with prayer of course and I think it’s very easy for us in our prayer lives to do the old gimme-gimme-gimme and it’s okay to pray for yourselves, that’s not sinful, it’s not, oh I must be the ultimate narcissist. That’s okay, but make sure you’re praying for others too, not just for yourself. Make sure that your prayers do

include petitions of gratitude or thanksgiving for the life that God has given you. The life that God supports and for the salvation that you have been promised from God.


We are to be a joyful people and think about it you know when Christians walk around you all hang dog, life is so hard, I don’t know how I can do this –  what kind of a witness is that?


What do we believe about God and God’s interaction in the world and in our lives. Let’s remember that and let’s be a praying people. Let’s be a thanking people and God uses us. God uses us to do incredible work in the world. It’s God’s work, our hands, as we say in the ELCA.


We are feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, supporting those who are going through grieving situations, being encouraging and helpful to people who are just down in the dumps and blue, are having a lot of good old-fashioned hard breaks in life.


We’re there to lift people up to be about renewing and sustaining life. To be about loving and caring and making this a better world for people to live in.


Paul further tells us don’t quench the spirit. Yeah, you can say no to the spirit, you have the freedom to do that much. You can say no. Paul is saying don’t try to stifle the prophetic voice. That voice that we have in the scriptures and that voice that we have today.


Now we always measure that prophetic voice. Don’t just jump on any would be prophet’s bandwagon. We measure it by what Christ says what Christ did and Christ’s very being and as people we are called to be morally fit. So, you put it all together, to be strong within our convictions, to be faithful, to be humble, to be ajoyful praying and thankful people and a morally fit people.


What an incredible witness is made through Christians and through the church. The light of God shines, and we’re blessed that God’s light has Shone on us and we can shine in this world. As we tell our candidates at baptism, let your light so shine before others. Why? So that they may see your good works and glorify your father in Heaven so then folks it’s a wonderful life. It’s one of my favorite Christmas movies, but It’s a wonderful life being a disciple of Jesus Christ.


We all are called to do the Lord’s work. Not just the pastors, but all of us. It’s in our baptism that we’re made Christians. We’re blessed with the gift of faith and we are all called to

share together in God’s good work in this world. Think about it. What are the things you

like to do? What are things you would like to do? What is important to you? What

do you value the most? Is there anything that can be greater anything at all than being our Lord’s disciples?


Now if somebody is thinking, yeah I can think of something, you’re breaking the first commandment –  so don’t go there. No, there’s no greater calling than to be our Lord’s disciples and as such what do we experience? We’re joyful, We’re moved to be prayerful and we’re moved to be thankful. Praise be to God.



Rev. Dr. Dan Yeiser

Interim Pastor