Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
Joy in Christ, a way of life

The third in a series of Advent Reflections


This is the third in a series of short Advent reflections. To watch, click HERE.

One of the things we wrestle with as Christians is the invisibility of God. No one has ever seen God. I’ve had experiences of God in my life, but I can’t say I’ve seen God. We only know of God through our experiences and the experiences of others. In our Christian tradition, those experiences have been recorded in the library we call the Bible, and especially, in the stories about and by Jesus. “He is the image of the invisible God…” as Paul writes in Colossians. We know about God because we have read and heard Jesus. It’s what Jesus has said and done that tells us about God.


In his dialogue with John the Baptist in the Gospel for the third Sunday of Advent, Jesus tells John much the same thing.

John wants to know if Jesus is the Messiah. How will he know that Jesus is the Messiah? Jesus does not respond with a recitation of his credentials. He doesn’t tell of his birthright, his divine parentage. He doesn’t boast of his status as a rabbi. He simply says to his disciples, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.” You know that I am the messiah because I am healing the people of all their ailments and lifting up the poor.

Now it’s fair to say that that’s not what most folks were expecting in the messiah. They were hoping for a conquering king who would restore the fortunes of Zion. Yet Jesus offered this new standard as proof of his status. See what’s happening. The world is being healed. The dead raised. The poor and the weak and the outcast are being raised up.

Now I suspect that a lot of us might prefer power and glory. Who isn’t impressed by a great show of strength? By enormous monuments and public displays of power? But that’s not the new world that Jesus heralds. That’s not the world God wants. What God wants is a world of healing. A world of justice.

And we who hope for that world, who wait for it, who dream of it, are called to the same behaviors. Every time we reach out in love for healing, every time we stand up with a little one for justice, every time time we act as a disciple of the Christ who is coming, that new world comes a little bit closer.

Are we the ones? Or are there others? What does the world see and hear of us?