STIR up, O Lord, we beseech Thee, Thy power, and come, and with great might succor us, that by the help of Thy grace whatsoever is hindered by our sins may be speedily accomplished, through Thy mercy and satisfaction; Who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
-- Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church
Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”
He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”
And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
And he answered, “No.”
Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”
He said: “I am
‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Make straight the way of the LORD,” ’
as the prophet Isaiah said.”
Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.”
These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
-- John 1:19–28 (NKJV)
Today's Epistle reading also plays an important role in our understanding of the collect:x
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
-- Philippians 4:4–7 (NKJV)
In the Gospel reading, the Jews go to John the Baptist looking for either the Messiah or his predecessor (remember Malachi 4), but John plainly told them he was the not the one they sought. As great as John was, indeed the last great Old Covenant prophet, he was not the one through whom peace and succor would come to the world. Quite the opposite!
God's great might would be peace and comfort through Christ Jesus, as St. Paul writes in Philippians. It is because of Christ and through Christ that our anxieties may be removed, our supplications brought, and God's peace made manifest in our lives regardless of circumstances. As we humble ourselves by casting our cares upon him (1 Pet 5), his peace will find us, guard us, and keep us through all things.
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