Third Sunday of Advent
The Work of Advent: Stir Up Enthusiasm
I am struck by how much John the Baptizer’s role is like that of an opening band for a major headline performer in a concert venue. The opener’s task is to “warm up” the audience, preparing the crowd to be receptive and excited for the main event. The band most likely has a hit song or two to its credit and a devoted, though modest, following. In its own league, the band is pretty good. Solid. By comparison, though, the headliner outshines the opener in all ways—charisma, originality, and impact.
John’s own ministry venture takes place a few miles outside of Jerusalem, where he works from the riverbank, baptizing crowds of people. Enough folks have sought him out that he attracts the attention of religious leaders who want to know who he is and why he is so popular. Might he be The One to fulfill centuries’ worth of expectations? Earnestly, John assures them he is not. His purpose, he says, is only to stir up enthusiasm for the real star of the show.
Maybe John is flattered that his ministry could ever be mistaken for what Jesus will be doing when he steps into the spotlight. When he becomes the spotlight. Flattered or not, John knows his calling and continues to warm up the audience.
If Advent is the opening act for Christmas, then let’s take it in with appreciation for one more week. Let’s enjoy getting ready! Let’s also anticipate that Jesus, our Headliner, will outshine anything we think we’re ready for.
Christine Sobania Johnson, pastor
College Hill Moravian Church, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania