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Old Testament Reading: Malachi 3:1-4

1See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

  For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. 4Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

It is time to get ready for company. Growing up, I remember Christmas Dinner meant we would eat off fine China dishes, drink from fancy water goblets and devour the wonderful food with silverware that had been freshly polished and untarnished for the occasion. The tableware was brought out only two or three times a year, and only for special occasions.

I remember Dad sitting at the dining room table with the fine silverware spread across the table several days before with a tub of silver polish and an old rag were the tools of his trade. Dad would spend hours polishing the silver until it caught the light from the chandelier and made that light dance with every movement of the polished forks, knives and spoons.

Dad’s chore was a sign, a signal that something important was coming. All would be clean and made ready for the big event to come.

In the lesson, we hear of the messenger to come who will purify the descendants of Levi (the priestly line of the Children of Abraham) and cleanse them so they will be able to do their duty. The Levites are the group that took care of the work of the Temple. When the Israelites made their way to the Temple, they would bring offerings to God. These offerings were to ask God to forgive, as well as to offer God gifts of thanks and praise. Bring your items to the Temple (or buy your offerings at the Temple), and have the priests offer them to God on your behalf.

Malachi tells us that God will make the messenger of God one who will be right with God by God’s doing, and the messenger will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.

In the following lessons for this week, we come to see that John the Baptist is that messenger, the one crying out in the wilderness, the one who makes the way for the coming of the Messiah. We will hear John’s message loud and clear – Repent! Turn to God! Be washed clean so you can be ready for the big event to come! Just like Dad, John is getting us ready.

The good news we have in Jesus Christ is that Jesus turns things around. The reality is that Jesus is coming to us no matter how prepared we are. The big event is not dependent on what we do or not do (whether the silver is polished or not!), but simply that God comes to us. It isn’t in a palace filled with fine China or polished silver, but in a cow stall, and all of IT’S glory (ever been in a cow stall?).

God comes to us. Ready or not!

Wouldn’t it be great if we ARE ready?

Either way, Come Lord Jesus!

Let us pray:

Good and gracious God, we thank you for your servant, John the Baptist. As we are washed clean in the waters of baptism, may we be ready to receive your Son, the Son of Righteousness. Amen

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