White elephant

Message preached on December 11, 2016
Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Glen Arm, Maryland USA

based upon Matthew 11:1-15

Order of Worship

preface to scripture:

Last Sunday, with our children, I noted that there was an Advent character not in our nativity sets. Anyone remember who that is? … John the Baptist. Of course, in the timeline of the Christmas story, he is at this point but an infant cousin of Jesus, in the arms of his parents, Elizabeth and Zachariah. However, we insert John as an adult into this season of Advent because he was the precursor to Jesus. He prepared the way for the Messiah, whose birth we will celebrate in two weeks.


“Are you the one who is to come,” is John’s question for Jesus in this morning’s gospel scripture. John sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus about this, since John was in prison and could not ask it in person himself. Now, in the storehouse of our faith, we remember when Jesus was himself baptized by John. There was some recognition in that moment, for John questioned whether he should instead be baptized by Jesus. He consented when Jesus replied, “Let’s do it this way, to fulfill what God has in mind (Matthew 3:15, my paraphrase).


Even after that voice from heaven spoke out when Jesus rose from the baptismal water, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased (3:17), John must still have harbored doubts. “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” John’s disciples ask this of Jesus at the beginning of the today’s gospel.


We will make use of “The Visual Bible,” a video which acts out the scripture word-for-word from the New International Version. At the outset, let me note a couple problems with this. First, you may not hear every word as they are spoken by Jesus. But, then, that’s often how it is in real life. We miss some of what others say. Did you hear everything in Joys and Concerns?...


Second, don’t let this blunt your imagination. You may envision things differently in your mind’s eye. That’s okay. I sort of like how Jesus seems to be a bit playful in this video, both tussling with a disciple at the beginning, and speaking with a grin and a wink and even a wry sense of humor. However, we always need to be a bit cautious in how we see Jesus. He can look like how we think he should. Now, that’s the good news of the incarnation – God in Christ became like us. But, he isn’t captive to us. He is always more than our preconceptions. He speaks and acts in ways that lead us beyond ourselves. He opens us up to the immensity and the mystery of the Kingdom of God.


“Are you the One,” may be our question of Jesus as well. … Let’s listen and watch this telling of the Gospel story…

then, from "The Visual Bible" - https://youtu.be/22KXnMGGVkY (just 0:00-1:57 minutes of it)

followed by verse 3 of "The Lord is coming"

then Listen to this message


©2016  Peter L. Haynes
(you are welcome to borrow and, where / as appropriate, note the source - myself or those from whom I have knowingly borrowed.)

return to "Messages" page

return to Long Green Valley Church page