Sunday's gospel reading (John 1:6-8, 19-28) begins with an announcement. The narrator wants to set the scene: There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light (1:6-8).
As with any essay or novel worth reading, you know something will follow statements like "sent from God...a witness to testify...all might believe."
On Sunday, we'll get the first installment of his saga (1:19-28), but those familiar with John's story know there is more to come. He will:
If you are remembering more details - like his tangle with Herod and Herodias, those are stories Mark (6:17-29) and Matthew (14:3-12) share. In John's gospel, John the Baptizer (or, more precisely to the gospel-writer John's depiction of him, John the Witness) makes an early entrance and early exit. He has one job to do: testify to the light (then get out of the way).
There are many ways to testify to the light, but actions and words are necessary. I firmly believe our actions validate our words, so simply speaking of the light and not reflecting it will prove our words baseless. Only reflecting the light without offering God praise or others invitations to experience is hollow.
We certainly don't ever want our message to be, "I've done good for you in Jesus' name in order to coerce you toward the light," but we also don't want it to be, "I've done good for you, but don't expect me to share about the light because Who the light is and way I honor him won't work for someone like you." There are absolutely ways to respect another while testifying to the light.
One of those is to invite others to join you any Sunday morning and/or this Sunday afternoon. Any invitation to be part of ministries here helps reflect the light in word and deed.
This Sunday, December 17, invite family and friends to join you for A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. You and your guests will hear the arch of salvation history from the fall of humanity in Genesis through the hopeful promises of Isaiah and into the birth narratives of Luke, ending with John's poetic declaration about the Incarnation. Between these foundational readings will be hymns and carols that put our faith's story into beautiful song. The pre-service organ recital will begin at 3:40 p.m. and the Festival will start at 4:00 p.m. in the sanctuary. A reception will be held afterwards in Spears Fellowship Hall.
I look forward to seeing you Sunday morning and afternoon.