Readings: Malachi 3:1-4 or Baruch 5:1-9 * Philippians 1:3-11 * Luke 3:1-6

This week the theme of righteousness plays a prominent role in the readings. In Malachi, the messenger of the Lord purifies the people until they “present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.” In Baruch, the people are exhorted to “put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God.” Paul picks up this theme in Philippians, praying that they may abound in love so that on the day of Christ they may be “pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” And in Luke, we see John the Baptist fulfilling the role of the messenger by proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

It’s interesting to note that in Luke, John is connected to Isaiah’s “voice of one crying out in the wilderness,” declaring that the valleys should be filled and the mountains lowered so that the way of the Lord is prepared. The end result is that “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” In Baruch, it is God who orders that these things be done so that “Israel may walk safely in the glory of God.” The end result is that “God will lead Israel with joy, in the light of his glory, with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.”

This week we are reminded that Advent is about more than waiting for a baby in a manger. We are waiting for the day that “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” God sends messengers to announce God’s own coming. John is one such messenger, but note that Luke associates him with Isaiah’s prophetic voice rather than Malachi’s. In this way we are encouraged to see Jesus as Malachi’s messenger, for he rather than John is the one able to purify us in righteousness. And finally, we are reminded that Advent waiting is hardly passive waiting, for as Matthew 28 and Acts 1 tell us, Jesus has made us his messengers. Will we go into all the world, trusting that God has already gone ahead to prepare the way?

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