As you have been blessed by the gift of God in the coming of Christ at Advent, please consider how your giving for the Christmas Offering to support Regional Ministry may bless the whole Church and world.  You may give through your local Disciples congregation, or at www.wvdisciples.org/support.  Congregations of the WV Region’s congregations whose members give online will still receive credit for the gift for Yearbook outreach reporting.

Read John 1:6-8, 19-28

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.

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.

 

from Rev. Kevin Snow

Associate Regional Minister for Youth & Young Adults and Pastor, Central Christian Church, Huntington

The church adds a lot of extras during Advent. We add decoration: trees and greenery, a manger scene up front, wreaths on the doors, candles in the window sills. We add events: special dinners, homebound visits and caroling, and children’s pageants. We add disciplines: daily devotional readings, evening Bible studies, additional services of worship. If the purpose of Advent is to wait with great anticipation, do all these additions serve the church or become a distraction? Do we add to our calendars and schedules to busy our idle hands or to increase our expectancy and hope?

As Meister Eckhart once said, “God is found in the soul not by adding anything but by subtracting.” We find this approach in the Fourth Gospel’s opening chapter. No angels and shepherds. No magi or angry kings. No Simeon and Anna in the temple. What is left? The light. Even John has been stripped down to his foundational elements. Here, he is only John; not “the Baptist” (Matthew), “the baptizer” (Mark), or “son of Zechariah” (Luke). John strips away what he is not: the light (himself), the Messiah, Elijah, the prophet. He is only one thing “the voice”; who does one thing: testify. How are we called this season to do the same? How shall we testify to the light?

Light of the world, shine upon us

in this moment and throughout this season,

that we can testify alongside John:

the Word, the true light has come into our midst. Amen.

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