Daily Devotion - November 23, 2020 - A True Herald

Pastor: Connie Belmore

Daily Devotion – November 23, 2020
Reading: Matthew 3
Weekly Theme: The Lord Is Coming
Today: A True Herald

Beginning this Sunday, we enter Advent Season, the season that prepares us for the coming of Christ. The word “advent” literally means the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. Even now in this post-modern era, when someone of great notoriety is about to arrive, there is a song or a signal or someone who announces or indicates the impending arrival. Today we begin four weeks of devotions (5 per week) that will lead us up to celebrating the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. During this season we prepare our hearts and minds for both the first and second coming of Christ. Both events are central to our beliefs in the Christian faith. Today’s Scripture reading tells us of a true herald whom the disciple Matthew describes as “the voice of One crying out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight’”.

If we were to see this herald, John the Baptist, today, we might find ourselves a little “put off” by his appearance and his actions. Can you imagine seeing someone who wears camel hair garments and eats honey and locusts? It seems John the Baptist was very popular and had a very large following of people and lots of influence but he definitely was not taking on this role as herald for his own popularity but rather was heralding, or preparing, the way of the Lord. His ministry consisted of a call for repentance followed by a baptism by water. John explains the importance of repenting, which is not just about asking for forgiveness, but about the result of a changed life that involves acknowledging our sin, turning away from it and then producing good fruit. John the Baptist warns the Pharisees and Sadducees that their claim to be heirs of Abraham means nothing without evidence of a fruitful life; the tree that does not bear fruit is cut down and burned. John is quick to tell those who follow him that there is One coming whose sandal he is not worthy to untie and that this One will baptize with the Spirit and with fire. This One, the Lord for whom the way has been prepared, is Jesus Christ and he will be the One who clears the threshing floor, indicating that he will be the only One who is worthy of the role of judging and separating the wheat from the chaff. Matthew 3 concludes with Jesus asking John to baptize him, as an example for others and in this act the Holy Spirit descends upon him and the voice of God declares Jesus as his Son in whom he is well pleased. John did not feel worthy to baptize Jesus but Jesus said this is the way to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus knew that through the act of baptism those who follow him forever more would be reminded that through Jesus we die to our sins and are raised to a new life of ministry to do the saving work of Christ which indeed does please the Lord.  We are reminded of God's grace poured out for us when we participate in and observe Baptism and experience the very presence of God with us through the power of his Holy Spirit. 

As we enter this season, beginning with today's passage, let us examine ourselves and repent, identifying those interferences in our lives that hinder us in our relationship with God and hamper us in doing the saving work of Christ. If you have been baptized; do you remember your baptism and do you experience anew the justifying grace of God when we die to our sins and are raised to a new life in Christ? Do we feel and experience the saving grace that moves in us each and every day as we are made complete in Christ and go forth to be true heralds who share the good news of this saving grace with others? Let us be thankful for the many means of grace God provides in our lives as we enter into this sacred season and as we prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christ’s birth and also for the day when Christ will come again.

This has been a tough year and we may be tempted to rush to Christmas as a place of healing. I have seen lights go up a little earlier in my community and heard people say that seems to have brought healing to their lives as they prepare themselves for the celebration of Christ’s birth. And that’s ok!! But let us also take the time to prepare our hearts through acknowledgement of our sins, turning away from that sin through the empowering grace of God and then being fruitful in sharing the saving grace of God with others.  And let us be as bold as John in our role as heralds of Christ's birth and his second coming and show the world the hope, love, joy and peace that come in this season because of what Christ has done. Let us pray.

Almighty God, who came to us long ago in the birth of Jesus Christ, be born anew in us today by the power of your Holy Spirit. We offer our lives as home to you and ask for grace and strength to live as your faithful, joyful children always. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

  August 2021  
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