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Archive for June 24th, 2019

COLLECT OF THE DAY

Almighty God, through John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, You once proclaimed salvation. Now grant that we may know this salvation and serve You in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

READINGS:  Isaiah 40:1-5 Psalm 85:(1-6) 7-13  Acts 13:13-26  Luke 1:57-80

Bio:  St. John the Baptizer, the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, was born into a priestly family.  His birth was miraculously announced to his father by an angel of the Lord (Luke 1: 5-23), and on the occasion of his birth, his aged father proclaimed a hymn of praise (Luke 1:67-79). This hymn is entitled the Benedictus and serves as the traditional Gospel Canticle in the Church’s Service of Morning Prayer. Events of John’s life and his teaching are known from accounts in all four of the Gospels. In the wilderness of Judea, near the Jordan River, John began to preach a call to repentance and a baptismal washing, and he told the crowds, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). John denounced the immoral life of the Herodian rulers, with the result that Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, had him arrested and imprisoned in the huge fortress of Machaerus near the Dead Sea. There Herod had him beheaded (Mark 6:17-29). John is remembered and honored as the one who with his preaching pointed to “the Lamb of God” and “prepared the way” for the coming of the Messiah. (The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

“…John’s (the Baptist) steadfastness is held up as an example to be followed by all faithful teachers—indeed also by all true Christians. John was not a reed. He did not allow himself to be deterred from the pathway of truth and from his calling by the world’s cunning and temptation.  So also, Christians are not to be fickle and erratic like a reed.  Rather, they are to be grounded like pillars and columns in the house of God.   1 Tim. 3: 15, Rev. 3: 12—Johann Gerhard

John the Baptist, or Forerunner, kept his eyes on Jesus.  When he was imprisoned for preaching the Word of God, John faltered, and Jesus sent him Word, the Word of encouragement that indeed He is working salvation for all…including John (See St. Luke 7: 18-30). Christ is our steadfastness in these times of immorality and unrest.   John was steadfast in his preaching, especially regarding marriage. He was born for this.  The saints are encouragement to the Church to hold the course steady in doctrine and practice.  The Church will not be patted on the back by the world.  It is not easy, but we can point others to the Lord:  Behold!  The Lamb of God. We are reborn for this.  

John prepared the way for the coming of the Lord, His Advent and that is the time of the Church year we hear the most about John.  His Father, Zechariah, sang, Luke 1:

 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
    whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

The entirety of Zechariah’s Song is called the Benedictus and it is central in Morning Prayer by the Church every day.  In our vocations, in our lives, by word and deed, we too can prepare the way of the Lord and His Advent for those we meet and know and for those who do not know the Lord.  This may be the day of salvation in the Lord’s Advent for them through the Word. We can point them to Christ the Lamb of God.   We may give a word of encouragement for a friend or brother to stay the course. We also pray to be prepared for the Lord’s final Advent. 

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