Sunday, December 17, 2017
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church – Loudonville, NY
John 1:6-8, 19-28
There are some common needs that all people hold in common. We all need food, and shelter, and a sense of love and belonging. And we all need a purpose, a reason for living. Each and every person no matter what age or where they live needs to feel that their life makes a difference in the world. Without a sense of purpose, life can seem pretty hopeless. A person needs to believe that their life matters. Living a life of purpose is living authentically and with intentionality. Our gospel lesson today tells us about just such a person.
We hear in this gospel account about a man named John. In Matthew’s gospel he is called John the Baptist. In Mark’s he is called John the baptizer. And in Luke’s gospel he is called son of Zechariah. But in John’s gospel, John is called just plain old John, a man called to be a witness. His mission, his purpose, is to testify to the light. His purpose wasn’t to draw attention to himself, or to be the top dog so to speak. His purpose wasn’t to make sure everyone knew how great he was, or how important he was. Instead, John’s purpose was to testify to the Light. John knew that it wasn’t all about him; it was about Jesus. That was his purpose.
John didn’t do this in a self-deprecating way. He didn’t put himself down, but spoke with authority. John lived a life of authenticity. He knew who he was, and what his particular gifts were. And he didn’t let the questions or the concerns of others shake him from his purpose. His strength came from God. John knew what he was called to do – testify to the Light – and no one was going to deter him from it. Too many people were living in darkness who needed to be guided toward the Light of Christ, and God worked through John to show them the way.
Who are the people who have pointed to the light in your life? A friend, a relative, a co-worker? How did they point you to the light? How did they infuse your life with light and hope? Did they offer you a reassuring word at just the right time? Did they give you a ride when you needed one? Did they bring you soup when you were sick? Did they encourage you when you felt like giving up? Did they sit with you in silence when you needed comfort, knowing that sometimes words at times are just not sufficient? Or maybe, like John, they told you at times things you didn’t want to hear for your own good. They wanted you to live up to your potential. These are all ways in which we are pointed to the light of Christ. These are ways in which we are reminded that God is with us through the hands, and feet, and voices of others. And in return, we too, can point others toward the light of Christ.
I saw this at work last week when I went with some of the Senior Shepherds of our congregation to deliver gifts for the women staying at the women’s shelter. You’ll never know the impact that these gifts have on them. They are signs of hope, and a message that God loves them. There are many other ways I have seen you all point to the light of Christ, and I know there are things that many of you do that I don’t even know about.
There is still a lot of darkness in our world today. People are craving the light. Perhaps it’s why Christmas trees are getting put up sooner; there’s a need for some light in the midst of the darkness. We are desperate for hope. Unlike tree lights however, the light of Christ never goes out. We need the light of Christ now more than ever. We all need to know that our life has meaning. And it does, simply because we are loved and treasured by God. Before we can point to the light like John though, we first have to believe in our own hearts that we can do it. So please hear me, you are loved and treasured by God. Your life matters. God has a purpose for you. Your purpose is to simply be the best person you can be. You are not a carbon copy of someone else. You are unique and special. Follow Jesus, and point others to him too, through your kindness, and compassion, and love.
When we share our faith with others by living our lives with intentionality and authenticity, we point to the light of Christ. No one could point to the light like John did, because there was only one John. God used his own unique character and gifts to reach people. In the same way, we each can point to the light of Christ in our own unique way, like no one else can. Each of us can reach others in a way that someone else can’t. Our purpose is to be authentic, and in being who we are we point to the true light of Christ.
In this third week of Advent as we journey closer to the coming of the Christ Child, the coming of the Light of the world, let’s take time to give thanks for all those people who have pointed us to the light of Christ. And let’s open our hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to use us to point others to that same glorious light that brings hope, and joy, and peace. Amen.