“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of the one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.” Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and al the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘we have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water for repentance but HE who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and he will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”
We journey backwards to before Jesus’ baptism, to John the Baptist prophesying the Messiah’s coming – a Messiah already here. Now is the time to get right with God.
Lighting the Candle of Prophecy
John the called on God’s people to repent, for the Messiah was near.
The people had prayed for it, yet they didn’t see the one they had been waiting for was truly among them.
That prophecy was being fulfilled in their midst.
This morning, we light the Candle of Prophecy
Let this fire remind us that while we wait for the Lord, truly the Lord is already here.
Hope is here. Love is here. Family, is here.
Call to Confession
Merciful God, though your prophets still call out to us, millennia later, we still don’t change our lives. As John the Baptist shouts to the people, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven as come near!”, we know that you are here, and still we don’t change. Still we don’t hear the cries of the needy, still we don’t prioritize serving the poor, and still we refuse to meet the needs of those who are truly hungry and thirsty around us. And yet, merciful God, you still count on us to carry out your mission, you still encourage us to follow you, you still are near. Help us, Lord, as we seek your way. Amen.