I Will Send My Messenger

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Second Sunday of Advent

Malachi 3:1-4
Philippians 1:3-11
Luke 3:1-6

 

Of the four verses in Malachi, only one speaks of the messenger, the one Christians believe to be John the Baptizer. When we look at the Gospels, John gets even less coverage. There is an important lesson for all of us in that proportion. Angels announced John to his mother and father in spectacular fashion. He lived an exemplary life announcing the coming of the Messiah and allowing the Messiah to do the important work.

Only one person received that high honor, and yet we know little about John. Why then should I expect people to be talking about me 2,000 years from now, or even a year after I die?

It is proper to give John a nod during Advent, but the story is about the Messiah. His birth changed our world forever.

How did he change the world? We still have a billion people slowly starving to death. In the last two centuries, an average of about 20 wars has been going on in the world at any given time. The murder rate is higher than ever. Have we changed?

Yes.

We are new people in the certain knowledge that we are forgiven people. We are still sinners living in a sin-filled world, but we have the promise of the Grace of God, the promise that our sins will be forgiven and washed away to pure white.

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God. MSG

The three words, not sentimental gush, are a key to understanding how to love. To pray for my church without praying for every other worshiper of God is sentimental gush. To pray for a woman who was raped without praying for her attacker is sentimental gush. To ask God to bless America without asking the same blessing on every other country is sentimental gush.

Jesus was born to show us the narrow path to the wide way. No longer are we to exclude others. My brothers live in Tehran and Havana. I cannot separate myself from the lives of others. God loves everyone; I must strive to do the same.

I will fail because I still live in sin, but I try. Like Jesus, my personal mission must be limited, and I have to depend on other people to carry the Good News into the rest of the world. Nevertheless, I have a mission, and I need to get on with it.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence