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Matthew 11:2-11

On this third Sunday of Advent a candle of a different color is lit. The last two weeks purple candles were lit and adorn the Advent wreath, but today a pink candle has its turn and reminds the gathered community that today is a day for focus on the word, “Joy.”

My mom used to tell me when I was a kid that I could choose the attitude I wanted to have for the day. I knew she meant that I could choose to have a good attitude as she would say this to me in moments when I was having a particularly bad attitude. I never really liked hearing her say that and found it to be quite annoying. However, as I have gotten older and now have children of my own, I can now see the wisdom in what she said. She was saying that I can choose, even though circumstances may be difficult, to have a good attitude. The word “Joy” is similar in this way. We can choose to be people of “Joy” or we can choose to be bitter, frustrated, and constantly negative.

The passage from today is about John the Baptism and interestingly he is patron saint of spiritual joy!

In Luke 1:13-14, the telling of John’s birth to Elizabeth and Zechariah goes as follows, “But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth’” (NRSV). John was associated with joy even from before the time of his birth.

If this day, this third Sunday of Advent, is a day set aside to focus on “Joy” then it seems those who initially selected the lectionary passages really messed up.

Here is John the Baptist, patron saint of spiritual joy, questioning Jesus by saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” (Matthew 11:3 NRSV).

Wait?!

Is this the same John the Baptist who earlier said: “the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal” (John 1:27 NRSV)?

Is this the same John the Baptist who said: “I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8 NRSV)?

Is this the same John the Baptist who witnessed when “the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove an