December 20, 2017

Day Eighteen


John 1:6-8, 19-28

“Among you stands one whom you do not know.” John 1:26b

Do you remember the classic scene in the original movie “Jurassic Park” when the children are in the stopped jeep? It is dark, the rain is coming down outside, and suddenly they see the cups of water on the car dash begin to shed ripples every few seconds as the giant Tyrannosaurus Rex pounds nearer and nearer to their vehicle. Steven Spielberg was a master of evoking suspense and “anticipation.” You just knew something was about to happen! (It did.)

The writer of John’s Gospel did that long before Spielberg! The opening chapter to this Gospel is filled with images of anticipation that are some of the most cherished words of the Advent season. There are many famous lines in the opening chapter of John’s Gospel, but my favorite line in the opening text is, “Among you stands one whom you do not know.” John the Baptist goes on to say, “I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” Wow! The people he is speaking to were sent to interview him by the most powerful Jewish leaders in the land because they thought John was someone to reckon with. He was as a leader of people who were feeling called to a new path, a new way of life to which they wanted to fully commit themselves, even to the point of being Baptized to wash away their old ways and take on a whole new way of being. And, just when they think they are going to get the answer they expect about how he is changing people, John claims one who is more powerful than himself, present and moving in the world . . . and they didn’t even know it!

This may be the most important message of the Advent season: that there is a power and a presence standing among us and standing with us in this world. One with a power to change lives that we could not begin to claim as ours; one that those in power do not know, but one who is nevertheless real and active. It’s not the kind of character that makes the evening news, or takes the political stage. It is one in our midst that is working nevertheless. One who is stirring our hearts to speak out against bigotry and hate-mongering. One who is driving us into the streets to witness that children from all lands are welcome here and precious in God’s sight. One who stills proclaims in our hearts: enough! Put away your swords!

In Advent, we embrace the mystery of Christ’s living presence and the powerful work being done by God’s Spirit. We embrace all this as one of the great mysteries of faith, and still the clearest hope of the world. Now we just have to be willing to help others know the one who stands with them and among them.

Prayer: Lord, help meet to introduce your Son to my brothers and sisters. Amen.


Rev. John Farley
South District Superintendent
Dean of Cabinet
California-Pacific Conference