A prayer service for the third week of Advent: John the Baptist

Here’s something to read when you light the third candle on your Advent Wreath. You can download a copy here. The download includes a picture to color and a simple summary for young children.
     
Advent Third Candle Prayer:  John the Baptist

On this Advent journey we’ve talked about Abraham and Isaiah. Today we focus on John the Baptist. His story begins with his father (a priest in the temple) and an angel.

While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord…He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.” (Luke 1:13-17 NLT)

…In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3)

Zechariah and Elizabeth did have a son, and after his birth Zechariah praised God:

Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:
“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people.
He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David,
 just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago.
Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us.
He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant—
the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham.
We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear,
 in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.
And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High,
because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
You will tell his people how to find salvation
through forgiveness of their sins.
Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace.”
John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel. (Luke 1:67-80 NLT)

…In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3)

God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. (John 1:6-8 NLT)
He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (John 1:23)
The crowds asked, “What should we do?”
John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.”
Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked,
“Teacher, what should we do?”
He replied, “Collect no more taxes than the government requires.”
“What should we do?” asked some soldiers.
John replied, “Don’t extort money or make false accusations.
And be content with your pay.”
Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon, and they were eager to know whether John might be the Messiah. John answered their questions by saying, “I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. (Luke 3:10-16 NLT)

 …In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3)

 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ (John 1:29-30 NLT)
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her
that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:1-5)

…In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3)

John answered, “It’s not possible for a person to succeed—I’m talking about eternal success—without heaven’s help. You yourselves were there when I made it public that I was not the Messiah but simply the one sent ahead of him to get things ready. The one who gets the bride is, by definition, the bridegroom. And the bridegroom’s friend, his ‘best man’—that’s me—in place at his side where he can hear every word, is genuinely happy. How could he be jealous when he knows that the wedding is finished and the marriage is off to a good start?
That’s why my cup is running over. This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines. (John 3:27-29 Message)
As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,
‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way before you.’” (Matthew 11:7-10)

…In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3)


Father in Heaven,
We hear the prophets call us to holy living
and we realize just how far we fall short of your perfection.
yet in your tender mercy you sent your Son,
the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
You sent John the Baptist ahead of Jesus, to prepare the way
and proclaim his identity.
You call us to witness for you too,
To share light with those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

 

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