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The Chalice
Sunday, December 17 2023


Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us. Let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us, through Jesus Christ our Lord… (Collect 3 Advent)

When I was studying for my M-Div. degree my professor recommended that when we open a book for his class, we should first read the last chapter and then begin the book. In the case of the Gospel, we start every year knowing how the book ends. Our church year begins in Advent with lessons from the last chapter of Mark. In the second week, we start at the beginning of Mark with the prophet John the Baptist. This week we go to the first chapter of John. In verse five, John says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” We will now get to see the serum light enter into humanity.

The Gospel goes on with the story of John the Baptist on the river Jordon near Bethany. The first century historian Josephus wrote: "John, that was called the Baptist… who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness.” We begin Advent in the darkness of the world with the second coming of our Lord and then go back to the time and place in history when the prophet, John the Baptist pointed to the light. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8). Jesus enters our story in Mark as he begins his ministry. Our lectionary experts have given us a head start on the disciples. We will watch them struggle to understand who Jesus is. Mark points us backwards to what God has promised to us through the prophets. The prophet Isaiah says, ”The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified (Isaiah 61:1-2).

It is time to prepare some space in our heart for Jesus Christ. Last week, Deacon Claire promised that God is searching for us and we merely need to turn towards God to accept him in our life. This week we are asked to look for the light coming out of the darkness. Jesus came to bring the good news of the love of God. We have this hope in Jesus Christ that carries us through difficult times. God’s grace and mercy will surely come to those who wait.

In Christ’s love,

Fr. Duncan

Posted by: Rev. Duncan A. Burns AT 08:10 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
St. John's Episcopal Church
12 Prospect St. | Huntington, NY 11743 | PH: (631) 427-1752
Sunday Services at 8 AM and 10 AM
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