Advent two – 9 December 2018
By the tender mercy of our God, the Dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Luke 1:78 – 79
Collect of the day
God of our salvation, you straighten the winding ways of our hearts and smooth the path made rough by sinning, keep our hearts watchful in holiness, and bring to perfection the good you have begun in us. We ask this through him whose coming is certain, whose day draws near, your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Malachi 3:1 – 14
Luke 1:68 – 79
Philippians 1:1 – 11
Luke 3:1 – 6
Some thoughts on Luke 3:1 – 6
So important is the emergence of John the baptiser in human history that Luke dates his appearance in six different ways. In his gospel Luke introduces John as prophets were introduced in the first testament (“the word of God was spoken to John son of Zechariah in the desert”). As does Matthew and Mark, Luke cites the famous passage from Isaiah regarding “a Herald’s voice in the desert” to describe the baptiser’s mission – but Luke quotes more of the Isaiah prophecy then his synoptic counterparts, including the promise of universal salvation that is so central to Luke’s Gospel.
Forms of “baptism” were common in the Judaism of gospel times, in some Jewish communities, it was through baptism rather than circumcision that a Gentile became a Jew. But John’s baptism was distinctive. His baptism at the Jordan was a rite of repentance and “metanoia” – a conversion of the heart and spirit. The baptiser’s ministry fulfilled the promise of the Ezekiel (Ezekiel 36:25 – 26) that at the dawn of the new age, the God of Israel would purify his people from their sins with the clean water and instil in them a new heart and spirit.
In his book Sacred Fire: a vision for a deeper human and Christian community, theologian Ronald Rolheiser writes about the two baptisms that John speaks of in today’s gospel: “John’s baptism is only a preparation for Jesus’s baptism. What’s John’s baptism? It is a baptism of repentance, a realisation of what we are doing wrong and a clear resolution to correct our bad behaviour.
What is Jesus’s baptism? It is an entry into grace and community in such a way that empowers us to internally to do what is impossible for us to do by our willpower alone.” ©Connections/MediaWorks