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Knoxville, TN, United States
Interim Pastor of Evergreen Presbyterian Church (USA), Dothan, AL.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

02-Ad2-P-C 2009 Lk 03 01-06 Voice in the Wilderness.doc

Luke 3:1-6

02-Ad2-P-Year C

James McTyre

Lake Hills Presbyterian Church

December 9, 2009


What are the significant events in your life?

Graduation. Marriage. Divorce. Second marriage.

Birth of a child. Child moves out of the house. Child moves back into the house.

An illness. A death. Senior Prom.


You might not remember what year it was as years are numbered.

But you remember the world around these events.

You remember the turning points where you made a choice, or when fate made a decision for you.

You remember the times when extraordinary events took hold of your life, and changed you.

But, more often than not, we remember the extraordinary in the context of the ordinary.

It’s the little, contextual things that trigger intense memories.

You smell the aroma of turkey in the oven, and you remember a life-changing conversation you had with your mother.

You watch a baby being baptized, and you remember the birth of your own child.

Someone clears their throat and it sounds just like the way your dad did it.

We safely and quietly hold within our hearts treasured memories of special events.

But, more often than not, it’s some tiny, almost insignificant cue that brings these treasures to mind.



How do you remember the person, or the events, that led you to Christ?

Some of you can remember the precise day and time when you accepted Jesus as your personal savior.

For some of you, the presence and salvation of Jesus Christ has always been near, even if you didn’t recognize it.

You were always part of the church, and the church was always part of you, even though you didn’t know what that meant.

But even if faith snuck up on you, there’s someone or something that was your John the Baptist.

There’s someone or something that was a signpost, a prophet, a realization.

Think about that person, that event that first led you to your own faith.


If we think of Jesus as God come to earth, then Jesus is a man who needs no introduction.

God could easily have given Jesus and his ministry to the world without the help of John the Baptist.

And yet, throughout scripture, there’s always someone pointing the way.

Almost no great biblical event ever takes place without someone there to announce ahead of time what’s to come.

The way-pointers are an indispensable part of God’s standard operating procedure.

When Jesus was born, it was a star that pointed the way to Bethlehem, so the wise ones and the lowly shepherds could find the manger.

When Jesus began his ministry, it was his cousin, John, who prepared the way of the Lord, calling people to repentance, baptizing them for the forgiveness of sins.

There’s always someone or something that points the way to Jesus.

This is the way God works.


Again, think back to the way-pointers to the turning points in your life.

Think of yourself and your faith before them.

And think of your faith after them.

What did they contribute to your understanding of Jesus?

Could you have found your faith without them?

God has created a world, and given us the gift of faith.

But this faith is always, always brought to us with the help of someone or something coming before to point the way.

Which is also to say that our faith is never, never solely our own.

We need each other, we need the church, we need even the unholy, hum-drum events of life to point us to Christ our Lord.


Think of your daily routine.

There are probably hundreds of habits that carry you from morning to night.

A morning alarm clock signals the dawn.

A crying baby signals it’s three hours before dawn.

A TV show tells us it’s time to pack up and get to work.

A phone call reminds us of an appointment.

Yet, most of the time, these ordinary events are just part of a daily blur of activity, rushing past us without causing so much as a ripple in our consciousness.

What if the routine of your day became to you a sign of God’s sustaining love?

What if these casual events could become signposts pointing the way to the real and present Spirit of Christ?

What are the chances that YOU might serve as a way-pointer for someone else?

What if your presence, rooted in the date and time of this day served to change someone’s life, even if you didn’t know it?

Were all the events or persons who led you to faith aware of their importance in your life?

Or were they just normal people, everyday happenings that gave you eyes to see and ears to hear?


John the Baptist was the voice of one crying out in the wilderness.

Each of us face our own wilderness as we make our journeys through life.

Each of our lives have twists and turns impossible to predict, and are often relentless in their tossing, turning curves.

John was an exceptional voice in a world that marked time in ordinary ways.

All it takes, is one.

All it takes is one voice to help us find our way when we’re lost.

All it takes is one voice of compassion, one voice of comfort, one voice of encouragement when we’re not sure how or even if we want to walk any further.

All it takes is one.


Give thanks to God for the ones who have pointed you in the direction of Jesus Christ.

Give thanks to God that even your ordinary voice, even your ordinary cycle of waking and sleeping, working and playing, shopping and returning –

even those most routine and hum-drum habits of the seasons of your life –

Give thanks to God that even those might be the one voice in the wilderness for someone lost and afraid.


Listen again to today’s scripture, thinking about those people or events that have signaled the greatest change in your own faith.

  In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
    "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
    'Prepare the way of the Lord,
        make his paths straight.
    Every valley shall be filled,
        and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
    and the crooked shall be made straight,
        and the rough ways made smooth;
    and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.' "


May God move straight through the twists and turns of your life’s road.

May God’s love smooth over your rough and jagged corners that unintentionally hurt those who pass by.

May God’s justice lower your mountains of conceit, and may God’s love fill the depths of your emptiness.

May you see, in the fullness of these days, THESE ordinary days, the salvation of God as it holds you and guides you, and brings you home.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.