Today is Dec. 7. I was six years old on Monday, Dec. 8 when Mrs. Kline burst through the door of the parsonage. She was wild with grief. "My son is dead," she sobbed. "He was in the hold of the ship, and he drowned right before my eyes. I could not do anything to save him."
We were doing the family wash in the middle of the kitchen. We had not yet heard that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. Three weeks later two soldiers knocked at the Kline's door and confirmed what Mrs. Kline already knew. The next four years we were engaged in a world war. It was a terrible time in our history. Every Sunday that one of our blue stars was sewn over with silver thread became a day of mourning. Air Raid wardens would pound on our doors when we had forgotten to extinguish a light or even a candle. Young soldiers from Camp Grant would march the gravel street that ran by our house.
Japan, Germany and Italy were formidable enemies. We wondered if we would be defeated. We feared that our freedoms were in dire jeopardy. We were called to put our faith in Uncle Sam. He would look down from his posters and say, "I need you!"
When Luke tells us the story of Jesus' entry into the world, he documents the enemies that the Savior would be facing. Tiberius, Pontius Pilate, Philip, Lysanias and even the internal enemies of Annas and Caiaphas would all seek to defeat Jesus. Luke had already identified the most powerful of all enemies, Emperor Augustus, who ruled the world when Jesus was born.
How could Jesus bring justice and peace to our world against such formidable enemies? And the enemies are no less powerful today. The message of John rings out a message of sure and certain hope from the first century to today. "All flesh," cries John in the desert, "shall see the salvation of God." We wait for this day.
Luke 3:1-6 (NRSV)
1 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,
2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.
3 He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,
4 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.
5 "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;
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"