If Advent was just about preparing to celebrate Jesus' birth, the scriptures would be ordered differently. We'd work our way through Isaiah's prophecies and go straight into the gospels' birth narratives. Instead, we move around in the gospels, a reminder that Advent is about drawing closer to God who came, remains, and will return.
The first week's gospel has Jesus warning us to be ready because he will return. It's placed toward the end of Jesus' earthly ministry (Matthew 24:36-44).
Last week we were introduced to an adult John the Baptizer who was telling people that the Messiah was on his way and commanding them to repent and believe the good news (Matthew 3:1-12).
This week we are dropped into the middle of Jesus' ministry and the end of John's (Matthew 11:2-11). John is in prison; Jesus out ministering. John is trying to sort out if Jesus is in fact the Messiah. Jesus offers evidence, but not the kind John or others expected. Jesus then admires John for being "the greatest born of woman," yet condemns him as the least in the kingdom of heaven. What?
What do you make of John's place in the kingdom of heaven? Any hope for you and me if he ranks that lowly?
What do you make of John's second-guessing whether or not Jesus is the Messiah? Perhaps his questioning is comforting when we have our questions.
Join us Sunday as we explore this rich passage and draw ever closer to the conclusion of Advent.
Don't forget: you can get a taste of the Christmas season by enjoying A Masterworks Christmas this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. or Sunday at 5:00 p.m. in the sanctuary.