By the time Christmas arrives, my wife and I have a basketful of Christmas cards. We are especially grateful for the reminders some of those cards bring that Christmas is about the birth of our Savior and the good news of great joy that that event brings.
Christmas card graphics
The cards bring graphics of herald angels, Mary and Joseph, devoted shepherds, worshiping magi, sleeping Bethlehem, and, of course, radiant manager beds.
But there are no Christmas cards featuring the Messiah’s way-preparer. John the Baptist – with his never-been-combed hair, camel-hair shirt, and urgent message that the Messiah’s coming requires repentance – is nowhere to be found.
Too bad. Still today we need to take to heart John’s demand that we recognize our sin, acknowledge its shame, and plead for God’s forgiveness. Without understanding how desperately we need a Savior, the good news of great joy that Christmas offers will not seem good or the joy will not be great.
In many churches this weekend the Gospel reading is the opening verses of Mark (1:1-8). The evangelist begins his good news with John, the Lord’s messenger whose task was to prepare the way for Jesus. He begins with the “voice of one calling out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.’”
This Christmas enjoy your Madonna and Child cards. But don’t neglect the Baptist. Listen to his call to prepare to celebrate on December 25. Repent.