Sign Bearers of the Kingdom

Third Sunday in Advent, December 17,1978

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; I Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28

Advent is the time of watchfulness and preparation for the coming of the Lord. But in the flow of these days when the fathomless depths of God's love for us and for his world begin to become clear to us, we know ourselves to be prepared for a new age. There is something startingly different about the coming of this Lord. The world is going to be confronted with a new way. And so the Church's year moves steadily from Advent and Christmas to Lent, Good Friday, and Easter.

This Lord comes with this commission for the new age:

He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly,
to heal the brokenhearted.
To proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners.
To announce a year of favor from the Lord
and a day of vindication by our God.

These revolutionary words which Jesus used in the synagogue to describe himself and his ministry direct our gaze away from ourselves, in order to give ourselves away to others in ministry like his. We can never be content with a personal view of salvation which we can so easily manipulate and control. The work of saving love is set loose in my life so that it can flow through me into the lives of my sisters and my brothers.

To look at Jesus there among the lowly and the brokenhearted, the captives, and the prisoners is to know that there is something missing in my appropriation of God's love if I do not experience the reality of corporate mission in my own life. Jesus came among us and lowered himself to become the servant of all. Can I do any less?

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