Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:
Today, June 24, 2020 is when the Christian Church recognizes The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, which the Church dates as six months prior to the birth of Jesus based largely on the events recorded in Luke 1.
This post is one of what I hope is many devoted to the Feast Days that the historic Christian Church observed that are generally neglected today. I pray that you find this message beneficial in your devotions this or another day.
St. John the Baptist was miraculously conceived by Zechariah the priest of barren Elizabeth as announced by the angel of the Lord in Luke 1:5-23. John was marked to be the greatest born of women (Matthew 11:11). The Church rejoices over the Lord’s mercy just as Elizabeth’s neighbors and relatives did at John’s birth. But when Zechariah’s tongue was loosed, John was not the subject of his song (the “Benedictus”). Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who has visited and redeemed His people. John is the voice preparing the way of the Lord (Isaiah 40:3); Jesus, the virgin-born Son of God, is that Lord. John is the prophet of the Most High. He is born to give knowledge of salvation to God’s people by the forgiveness of their sins, because Christ the Dayspring is visiting (Luke 1:76-79). Thus, what John preaches is the comfort of iniquity pardoned by Jesus, the promised Savior of Israel (Acts 13:23) and the nations, that His salvation may reach to the end of the earth (Isaiah 49:6).
The verse or theme for this feast is “Alleluia. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to make ready for the Lord a people prepared. Alleluia.” It is from Matthew 1:17. The focus for your devotion this day is that Saint John the Baptist is not the Christ, only His Forerunner (Acts 13:25). He was called from the womb to bring Jacob back to God through his baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Isaiah 49:5), just as Christ was the true Servant of the Lord.
Old Testament: Isaiah 40:1-5
Psalm: Psalm 85:1-13 (antiphon v. 9)
Second reading: Acts 13:13-26
Holy Gospel: Luke 1:57-80
The hymn appointed for this day is “When All the World Was Cursed” as found on page 346 in the Lutheran Service Book. You may hear the hymn at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np_Lb4MR10g
Collect of the Day: Almighty God, through John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, You once proclaimed salvation. Now grant that we may know this salvation and serve You in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Pastor Jim Tuell