Malachi 3:1-7b; Phillipians 1:2-11; Luke 3:1-14, 15-20.
“Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding” (LSB 345) is a cherished Advent hymn. That thrilling voice is that of John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness, “The Savior is near! The kingdom of God is near! Repent, and live out your new life in Christ! Produce fruits worthy of repentance!” In many ways, we still live in the wilderness. Our nation continues to polarize, causing us to lose friends and feel as though we are alone in the world. Many of us walk through the wilderness of serious disease, job loss, or watching our children or grandchildren walk away from faith. There is also the self-created wilderness of our own sin—the damage we have done in relationships with others. But John’s thrilling words bring us hope. While we are powerless to make it through the wilderness ourselves, God is powerful and sees us through. By the gift of repentance in turning to Him in our desperation and pain, God restores a right relationship to us and then sets us free to bear fruit worthy of repentance. We are not stuck. God can change and restore us! A thrilling voice indeed!