15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. 19 But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, 20 added to them all by shutting up John in prison.
21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
The four services of Christmas Eve 2017 are now in the past. We looked forward to them with much preparation and great anticipation. The sanctuary and PLC were decorated beautifully and thoughtfully by St. John’s disciples. Many, many hours of preparation went into the sermons, the music, the liturgies, and all the visual aspects of the celebration of the birth of Christ.
Reading today’s passage from Luke, I think about the excitement the people had preparing for the Messiah. They were drawn to John the Baptist and showered him with much praise and adulation, asking him whether John himself might be the promised Messiah. How must John have felt? It must have been overwhelming for him, yet he remained so humble, proclaiming the good news to them and preparing them for Christ’s coming. Picture yourself as a follower of John, questioning whether he may be the Messiah because of the incredible person that he was, baptizing them with water, and then being told by John that someone far greater than he would come to baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Yet John remained humble and kept focusing on Christ. One of the most memorable verses from this passage proclaims, “But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie” (3:16). What an image! John told his followers that he did not even deserve the right to get on his knees to untie Jesus’s shoes, an act that we think of as being very menial. John remained adamant and humble, insisting it was all about Jesus.
Let’s remember that as we are drawn into the liturgies, the sermons, the marvelous decorations, and the beautiful music, our focus should remain on Jesus. While the beauty of the worship space, the glorious music, and the great sermons enhance our worship experience, Jesus is at the center.
Lord Jesus, we have prepared for and celebrated your birth. Help us to remain focused on you, Jesus Christ, our Messiah and Savior. In your name we pray. Amen.