St. John the Baptist

 June 24, 2018

As we are just getting into enjoying summer, the liturgical calendar reminds us: only six months until Christmas Eve. 

Tradition declares that Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist was six months older than Jesus. Today we hear the story of his birth and naming.  John’s role was to prepare and point people to Jesus.

I once asked an orchestra conductor what he thought was the toughest instrument to play.  He replied, ‘second fiddle’.  He noted the second violins had to be virtually as gifted and talented as the first violins to play their parts, but they also had to fade a bit into the background in order to supportr the first violins and allow them to be the leading voice heard.

John was born to be a ‘second fiddle’.  A role he played well, humbly as he pointed people to Jesus, ‘whose sandal’ John was ‘not worthy to untie”.

We are called to be like John, pointing people to this marvelous Jesus.  How comfortable are we in the role of ‘second fiddles’? 

This Christian faith is about God’s love, grace and forgiveness through this Jesus.  Let’s not make it about us.  Point the way and get out of the way so people can meet and walk with Jesus in newness of life.


Almighty God, by your gracious providence your servant John the Baptist was born to Elizabeth and Zechariah. Grant to your people the wisdom to see your purpose and the openness to hear your will, that the light of Christ may increase in us, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

            Malachi 3: 1-4
                        Psalms: 141
            Acts 13: 13-26
            Luke 1: 57-67
SERMON: “Becoming a Humble Servant”
WORD OF THE WEEK – from Malachi 3

1See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.

FIRST LESSON from Malachi 3: 1-4
1See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

  For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. 4Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

SECOND LESSON from Acts 13: 13-26
3Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. John, however, left them and returned to Jerusalem; 14but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15After the reading of the law and the prophets, the officials of the synagogue sent them a message, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, give it.” 16So Paul stood up and with a gesture began to speak:
  “You Israelites, and others who fear God, listen. 17The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 18For about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. 19After he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance 20for about four hundred fifty years. After that he gave them judges until the time of the prophet Samuel. 21Then they asked for a king; and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, who reigned for forty years. 22When he had removed him, he made David their king. In his testimony about him he said, ‘I have found David, son of Jesse, to be a man after my heart, who will carry out all my wishes.’ 23Of this man’s posterity God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised; 24before his coming John had already proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25And as John was finishing his work, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but one is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of the sandals on his feet.’

  26“My brothers, you descendants of Abraham’s family, and others who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent.”

THE HOLY GOSPEL according to Luke 1: 57-67
57Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.
  59On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” 61They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” 62Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. 64Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. 66All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.

  67Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy