God sent a man named John to tell the people that a very special person was coming to help those who needed help. The person coming was Jesus, God’s very own Son. John came to be known as John the Baptist or John the Baptizer because he baptized so many people. You may have heard or seen pictures of John. He was rather strange looking – some might even say scary or weird. He lived in the desert, so he didn’t take a bath very often or trim his hair or beard a lot. He wore a short leather robe and ate grasshoppers and wild honey. John really got the people’s attention though because of the way he looked and his loud, booming voice.
John told the crowds that God was sending someone to save them, so they needed to stop being selfish and thinking only about themselves and what they wanted. He told them that if they had two coats and they saw someone shivering without a coat, they should give him one of theirs. If they had food and saw someone hungry, they should share their food with him. John even told the tax collectors, who very often collected more money than the people owed and kept it for themselves, that they needed to stop cheating like that. And he told the soldiers they should not tell lies or accuse people falsely of doing bad things.
Everyone got very excited about John. They began to think that maybe John was that special person God was sending to them, but John said very emphatically, “No, it is not me. The one who is coming is far greater than I am. I am not worthy to even untie his sandals.” John baptized people – that is he poured water on them as a sign that they were promising to do what John asked them to do. He told them that when Jesus came, they would feel God’s love pouring over them just like the water.
This Advent and Christmas season, I hope you feel God’s love “pouring” over you and your family and friends. You can be like John and tell everyone to get ready for Jesus is coming. He loves us all so much that we never have to be afraid or worry about anything. No matter what happens in the world around us, and there are scary things that do happen we all know, He will be with us and protect us our whole lives. That’s certainly is a good thing to know and remember! You can read more about John in the beginning of Luke, Chapter 3 of the Bible if you want.
Let’s say a prayer now. Dear God, thank you for Jesus, who came to earth as just a little baby and grew up to be our Savior. We thank You for Your love and protection too, so we never have to be afraid of what is happening around us. Help everyone to have a blessed Christmas and let us each do our part to make that happen by loving and sharing with those around us. In Your name we pray, Amen.
Ann Moody is pastor of Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church and the Middleport First Presbyterian Church.