Let’s Be Pointers

Let’s Be Pointers

Christmas 1
John 1:19-34

I have a gift. I come by it honestly, as they say. My mom has it, too. I don’t know how many generations back it goes. And I don’t know whether it has only been women in our family who have had it. The gift: I can find lost things, sometimes before the person who is looking for them has even communicated the need to me. For example, my husband, John, and I will be gathering ourselves to leave the house, and he’ll come into the living room to find me pointing at the thing he has been searching for. Or, throughout my children’s childhoods, I could be counted on to find a toy or a book or a notebook that they were looking for, sometimes even before they asked. And, again, there I would be, pointing at the item, or holding it out, ready to hand it to them. A pointer is all about connecting things – in my case, I connect people with their lost items.

John the Baptist was also a pointer. He was also all about connecting things. He connected people with Jesus. He pointed to Jesus, the Messiah, and not to himself.

He certainly could have pointed to himself. He was a pretty big deal, after all. He drew crowds by the hundreds. He preached, and his preaching persuaded people to repent and to be baptized. It wouldn’t have been a stretch for him to have been focused on himself and on his success. And yet, when the priests and Levites, who had been sent by the Pharisees, came asking him, “Who are you?” he confessed that he was not the Messiah. When they asked whether he was Elijah or the prophet, he replied, “I am not.” They asked again, “Who are you? We must have an answer for those who sent us.” John replied by quoting from the book of Isaiah: “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’”

He was saying, essentially, that he was a pointer. His ministry, his preaching, his calling out to those who were lost, was all pointing – not to himself, but to Jesus.

The next day, our lesson continues, John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! … I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel. … And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” Now, I don’t know about you, but I can see John actually pointing to Jesus as he says, “Here is the Son of God!” There he is, folks! That’s the Messiah! That’s the one you want to follow!

John the Baptist was a pointer, and I hope that can also be said about me. No, not that I am good at pointing at lost things – although that is certainly a useful gift. I hope that it can be said that in my life, through my words and actions, I am a pointer, that I am one who points to Jesus. A pointer is one who is less interested in him- or herself and more interested in the one to whom s/he is pointing. I think God wants us all to be pointers, like John the Baptist.

We need to be pointers because Jesus is the Light of the World, the Redeemer, the one who offers eternal life – and there are some who have not heard; there are some who have heard and who long to hear the story again; there are some in this weary world who desperately need to hear of the hope that Jesus brings; and there are some for whom our lives will be the only witness they have to God’s grace and God’s mercy.

I am reminded of these words from the hymn, “I Love to Tell the Story:”
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy word.

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.

We are all called to be pointers. We are called to see Jesus and to point him out to others. We are called to bear witness to what we have seen and heard. We have the opportunity to share how God is moving in our lives, transforming us and changing the world. We can share how our time of reading the Bible devotionally and praying as we start our day centers us and helps us to see God’s hand at work in our world. We can acknowledge how God’s presence in our lives gives us courage to face the challenges of the day. We can express our joy that we are able to use our gifts and talents to serve others, and we can share how freeing it is to turn our attention away from ourselves and toward the needs of others. We can confess our sins to God in the presence of one another, and we can know and share the power of God’s forgiveness.

We live in the in-between times. We live between Jesus’ coming as a babe in a manger and living among us, dying and being raised, and the time of his coming again. In these in-between times, we are called to point to Jesus by our words, by our actions, by our whole lives. We are called to make the path straight. We are called to be all about Jesus and about connecting people to him. We are called to live our lives believing, trusting, and obeying Jesus. God wants us to be like John: to know who we are not, and also to know who and whose we are. Like John, we can live our lives knowing that others do not define us; God’s love and grace define us.

The world already has far too many gatekeepers. Let’s be all about letting everyone in, letting everyone get to know Jesus. I am reminded of a cartoon I once saw: it is a single panel, and people are shown with large pencils, pencils that are as tall as they are, drawing lines on the ground – creating individual boxes for themselves. Jesus, depicted in a robe and wearing a crown of thorns, is going around after them, using the other end of his huge pencil to erase the lines. Let’s be like Jesus. Let’s be about erasing lines, rather than drawing lines, between us.

Like John the Baptist, let’s be pointers; let’s point to Jesus through our words, our actions, our very lives. Let us go about erasing, rather than drawing, lines. Let our lives ring with the joy of the message: Behold, the Son of God, who ta

“Let’s Be Pointers” was a sermon preached by Pastor Pam Schaefer Dawson on the 1st Sunday after Christmas.  The text upon which it was/is based is John 1:19-24.  Click on the following link to access the worship bulletin: Worship Order.20211226.print