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The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

June 24, 2018 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Pentecost

Passage: Luke 1:57–1:80

†††In the Name of Jesus†††

Pastor Murray Keith

Text: Luke 1:57-80

Date: June 24th, 2018; Nativity of St. John the Baptist; Series B

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

  • While I served my vicarage at First Lutheran Church in Windsor, ON - Natalie and I had the opportunity to go visit New York City - the Big Apple.
  • We saw and experienced a lot of amazing things, but I’m sure that if you ask Natalie what the highlight of that trip was for her, she would answer that it was being in the audience of a taping of The Martha Stewart Show.  
  • In fact, being Martha’s biggest fan, she might even say that seeing Martha in person was the highlight of her life! 
  • Well, after meeting me of course! 
  • It took us over 2 hours from the time we arrived at the building to the time we got to our seats.  
  • When we finally got into the studio, I glanced around and saw that the audience was filled with energy and expectation - there was a lot of excitement in the air!  
  • Just a little while longer and we would see Martha!  But first a comedian by the name of Joey Kola came out to entertain us. 
  • Joey told us a few jokes and a few interesting facts about Martha and the show.  
  • He also told us about what we were to expect once the show started and he instructed us on how we were to behave - when we were to clap and cheer and when we were to be silent.
  • I enjoyed the 10 or so minutes that Joey entertained us. 
  • But I also felt a bit sorry for him.  
  • Nobody really wanted to see Joey Kola or really cared too much about what he had to say.  
  • Everyone wanted to see Martha.  She was the reason everyone was there.
  • Joey Kola’s only job was to warm us up before Martha’s grand entrance.  He was just to prepare us for the show - to let us know what we should expect.  
  • I felt a bit sorry for him because I’m sure that was not what he expected or wanted when he decided to go into show business.
  • Like everyone else who moves to New York or Hollywood to become a performer, I’m sure he wanted to become wealthy and famous.  
  • He wanted to become the next Bob Hope or Jerry Seinfeld.
  • But instead, his job was to prepare the way for Martha Stewart.  
  • It takes a lot of humility to do a job like this.  To deflect the attention from yourself to another.
  • I share this with you because I thought of Joey Kola as I considered St. John the Baptist.
  • Like Joey Kola, John the Baptist’s only job was to prepare the way for someone else.  
  • He was not to draw attention or focus to himself, but rather he was sent to point to -  and direct the focus of all humanity - to the light of the nations, Jesus Christ.
  • Today we celebrate the Nativity, the birth, of St. John the Baptist.  
  • And if you can believe it, that means that we are 6 months away from Christmas Eve!
  • Why do we celebrate the birth of St. John the Baptist on June 24th every year?
  • Because Scripture tells us that John was born 6 months before his cousin - Jesus (Luke 1:26).
  • So, we remember and give thanks for the birth of St. John the Baptist on this day.
  • At the beginning of St. John’s Gospel we are told, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all may believe through him.  He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light” (John 1:6-8).
  • John knew his role - he would say about Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
  • John knew why God had sent him.  It was to bear witness about the light. 
  • Perhaps the brightest light that John shone on Jesus was when he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
  • John prepared the way for the Light to enter the world by calling people to repentance.  
  • And his thunderous shout still rings out today: Repent!
  • Repent of your sin. Don’t hide it. Don’t rationalize it. Don’t ignore it or make excuses.
  • Repent.
  • Repentance is the only thing we can do with our sin.
  • We confess it.  We admit it.  We take responsibility for it.  
  • We lay all of our darkness before God - and the Light of the world, Christ Jesus, removes it.  
  • Hear John the Baptist speaking to you this morning.
  • Hear him preparing the way by calling you to repentance.
  • Hear him as he points to Jesus and boldly proclaims, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
  • Jesus became the sacrificial Lamb for the world.  Upon him all of the sins of the world are placed - all the sins of the past, present, and future.
  • Jesus bore your sin on the cross and his Light has replaced the darkness of your sin.
  • And because of the loving, gracious, and merciful sacrifice that the Lamb of God made on our behalf - we are justified before God.
  • Our sins have been taken away, removed, and that means that we will not suffer the eternal consequences that our sin deserves.
  • Instead, we will receive the eternal life that Jesus won for us through his perfect life, suffering and death, and resurrection.
  • We will enjoy eternal life together basking in the warmth and love of God’s light.
  • There will be no more darkness of pain, and suffering, and death.  
  • We receive this gift of salvation and eternal life that Christ has won for us through the gift of faith that he has given to us.
  • John the Baptizer was sent by God to prepare the world for Jesus’ first coming. 
  • The Church, which includes you and me, has been sent to prepare the world for Jesus’ final coming.  
  • Like Zechariah, like John the Baptist, we too are very much part of God’s plan. 
  • As we love and serve the people that God has put in our lives, as we share the hope that we have in Christ whenever we have the opportunity, as we proclaim to the world around us that God’s love, forgiveness, and promise of eternal life through the Messiah Jesus is theirs too – God’s plan of salvation is being carried out.
  • What a privilege and honour it is to be part of God’s plan.
  • What hope we have knowing that God’s plans cannot be stopped - God’s plan of salvation will prevail! 
  • So rejoice!  Rejoice that we together as the Church of Christ, brothers and sisters, are able to work together to prepare the way of the Lord!  Amen.

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The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

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