The expectation of Christmas coming grows stronger with each passing day. This Advent season makes it a little more difficult because Advent this year is five days longer. Christmas can be as soon as eight days after the third Sunday of Advent but this year it is almost two weeks from today. This third Sunday encourages us to rejoice, that is why we use the joyful color of rose in our decorations. Zephaniah is so filled with joy and expectation that he proclaims the Lord will come and join in our celebration. Not only does he join in the celebration, but Zephaniah proclaims that the Lord will join us in singing. I am surprised: the Lord will sing with us? Perhaps with the birth of His Son the Lord did sing so great is the joy that comes into the world.
Listen to the people of the gospel. They are accepting the message of John. They are filled with expectation and longing for the coming of the Messiah. They wonder if John might be the Messiah. But John knows what they are asking. He teaches them that he is not the Messiah, but the voice crying out in the desert. John proclaims one greater than he is coming, and they must change their lives.
The excitement of the coming Messiah touches their hearts, and they ask what must we do? John does not give them additional prayers, nor does he tell them to spend more time in the temple. Those are good things, true, but instead he looks at the person and invites them to live a good moral life in what they already do. This is good for all of us today, too.
Do you have more than one coat? Then share a coat with someone who has none. Do you have extra food? Then share with those who do not. What is your job in life? John tells the tax collectors to be fair and not cheat. He tells the soldiers not to force people to follow the law, but to treat people fairly. What would John tell you? What is your job? Are you doing the best you can with what you have? Are you generous? Do you treat people with justice?
This is a special time in the calendar of the church. In the next couple of weeks, we will have more family visitors. People will begin to celebrate Christmas next weekend, then Christmas weekend, and then the weekend after Christmas. I think John would say to greet them with the joy of the season. Make them feel welcomed. Let us show by example what a joy filled Christian family we are. Yes, we have our problems, but we are always filled with joy because of our anticipation for the coming of the Messiah.
This Christmas know that God sings with you as you raise your voice in song with the Christmas carols. Jesus comes into hearts, He comes into the world, now you come to worship the newborn King.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen