December 13, 2020

Third Sunday in Advent

  • First reading
    • Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
  • Psalm
    • Psalm 126 or Luke 1:46b-55
  • Second reading
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
  • Gospel
    • John 1:6-8, 19-28

Last week’s gospel reading from Mark
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

This week’s gospel reading from John
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.

The Macklin Bible* — John Preaching in the Wilderness: Stothard, Thomas, 1755-1834 ; Skelton, William, 1763-1848

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.”

And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,'” as the prophet Isaiah said.

Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.”

This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

For last Sunday, the second Sunday in Advent, and this Sunday, the third, the gospel readings are from Mark and from John, respectivly, but both involve John the Baptistl. They are similar but different. This Sunday Pastor Stevensen in his sermon spoke on the two together. He reminds us that both are important. John begins with the light, by which he means Jesus Christ. Mark’s reading is the beginning of the Good News. In both Jesus Christ is the central subject. Both are about belief in a Son of God. Mark opens with the Good News. The Greek words from which the words “news” or “gospel” are interpreted mean message. God’s message is spread around the world and the News is Jesus Christ. The message began 500 years before the appearance of John the Baptist. The Good News is that the Son of God came, went to Jerusalem, died and rose from the dead, in victory over sin and death. This is God’s Good News.

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*Note: The Macklin Bible is an enormous physical specimen of book art, comprising seven volumes two feet in height and over 130 pounds in weight. It represents the apogee of the art of British copper-plate engraving, involving both painters and engravers. These renowned artists often selected scripture texts that featured women, who were the nurturers of religious education for the family in late 18th century England.

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