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Matthew 11:2-11

It’s the third Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of JOY, and our gospel passage brings us the uncertain angst of an imprisoned prophet and reminds us that Jesus’ ministry is one that offended many, especially those in the soft robes of royalty. I don’t know about you, but a soft robe sounds kind of nice to me right about now. As the weather gets colder and the nights longer, we long for all things warm and cozy, but that is NOT what the lectionary delivers.

Jesus has sent out his disciples on a very intentional and specific mission (be sure to read Matthew 10 for the details). They are sent “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” to “proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near’” to “cure the sick; raise the dead; cleanse those with a skin disease; cast out demons.” And to be careful because as a result of this work they are likely to find themselves flogged in synagogues and “dragged before governors and kings”.


John the Baptist hears about what Jesus and his disciples are up to and sends a message to Jesus from his prison cell, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” I wonder if in some sense he meant, “Are you coming?” Not sure if you’ve heard, Jesus, but I’ve been in prison for a bit and I could really use some Messiah energy over here. Is the kingdom coming or not!?

That is a question that is likely to resonate deeply with our congregations. Is the kingdom of heaven ever actually coming? We’ve put all our eggs in the Jesus basket, but we’re finding ourselves in very uncomfortable company. Every Advent we wait and long for the fullness of God’s kingdom on earth and every year we find ourselves back here again in a world full of violence and injustice, suffering and strife.

(Can someone please bring me a soft robe, a warm blanket, and a cup of hot chocolate…with extra marshmallows?)