3737 Seminary Road Alexandria, VA 22304
Advent 3

Many have reached out to let me know that they enjoy reading the weekly Advent reflection. From our brother in Haiti to our sister in Hawaii—alumni/ae and friends are reading and reflecting on the same message. It is one of our strengths as Episcopalians: we meditate on the same readings—bringing our own joys and cares to the text. We are united by the Biblical narrative. I pray that each of you will find prayerful moments for meditation during this holy season of Advent.

Ever in Christ,

The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D
Gospel for the Third Sunday of Advent

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?" Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the 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. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me." As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, 'See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.' Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
- Matthew 11:2-11
Reflection by Dean Markham

John the Baptist has been arrested.  This Gospel starts with a simple question: Is Jesus really the Messiah?  The followers of John want reassurance.  Here we have a recognition that asking questions about our faith is acceptable.  Others have pointed out that the opposite to faith is not doubt, but certainty.  Jesus receives our questions and our doubts and is open to providing the answer.  In this case, Jesus explains that his transforming actions in the lives of the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, the dead, and the poor are the evidence that he is indeed the Messiah.  Doubt is OK; and we look to the transforming actions of God in our lives to reassure us.
Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen. - The Book of Common Prayer, p. 212