December 7, 2012

A new age of grace

By Jan Emswiler, assistant professor of nursing
SCRIPTURE: Luke 3:1-6 (NRSV)

Growing up and hearing this part of Luke, I always envisioned a hairy, smelly guy who had not showered in a while, coming up out of the dessert after eating strange things to survive there. I remember thinking, “did people really take this guy seriously?” Did they think he was a “madman”? He quotes from Isaiah, so although he may have looked quite scruffy, he proves to have studied the Scripture and to be knowledgeable in that realm. Does that make him more credible? He proclaims: “and all people will see God’s salvation” (v. 6). He was calling everyone, all people, universally, everyone without distinction, and declaring they would ALL see the salvation of God. How radical was that? John stood at the door of a new age of grace, welcoming all. I’m wondering, do I do the same?


God, give me the grace and courage to be bold and radical like John. Open my heart and mind to realize the universality of your grace, your open door extended to all as John proclaimed so many years ago.

SCRIPTURE: Luke 3:1-6 (NRSV)
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” ’



Comments (6)

  1. Thank you sooo much.

    Sandra Perez December 7, 2012 |
  2. I love this reminder that ALL are welcome into the Kingdom of God. I am also reminded that we love the sinner and not the sin. Often this scripture is used to justify condoning sinful behavior. Let us love everyone and welcome all who want God’s gift to us Emannuel and stay obedient to our Father in heaven, Jehovah God Almighty

    sidonie December 7, 2012 |
  3. Thank you, beautiful Jan. Our dear precursor, John in the desert was utterly alone, among the sheer rocks, bitter cold at night, sering hot by day, with hardly anything to earth. Your reflection, Jan, helped me realise that, like John, we have to depend absolutely on God.

    Mervyn Carapiet December 7, 2012 |
  4. I loved the contrast you made ..the apparent madman and yet the sanest message for this divided world – we are ALL to know God’s healing, salving power. Thank you

    Sue Halapua December 7, 2012 |
  5. I am a visual person, so I liked your description; it put John right before my mental screen and gave me a better “picture” of this passage! Then to say “give me courage to be bold and radical”, I did not feel like a “wild woman” in how I live my faith! Thanks for the quirkiness!

    Lorraine Murphy December 8, 2012 |
  6. Friend! I was googling for a devotion for tomorrow’s staff meeting and came across yours. What a joy to see your face. What a gift to hear God speak to me through your words. We are in the midst of church strife over a decision to move our 7pm Christmas Eve service to a larger space. Some do not want to lose their tradition even if it means making space for the visitor. Yes, we are asked to invite everyone….yes, asked to make space to welcome those searching for something, even if they do not yet recognize that ‘something’ as God. Amen, my friend. Blessings from Pete and me to you and yours.

    Heather Rodrigues December 10, 2012 |