Last Sunday we talked about the arrival of John the Baptist. This is the great forerunner of Jesus, the famous voice crying out in the wilderness. He shows up baptizing the people of God as they repent of their sins and renew their longing for the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah. And as we find out in our text today, John is the fulfillment of the prophecy concerning Elijah the prophet.

Thanksgiving is over. The leftovers are still plentiful – turkey, stuffing, candied yams, maybe even a few pieces of pecan pie. Yes, that awkward dinner with the in-laws – or as I remember my dad wearing a name tag marked “Outlaw” at a family reunion – and life continues. As usual, there is no shortage of things to do, but those tasks are different around this time.

If anyone experienced the sturm und drang of waiting and watching for God, it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer.[1]  Sitting in a prison cell, he hoped to be released, hoped for the war to end, hoped to spend Christmas with his family, hoped Jesus would descend with a blast of trumpets. Days turned to months and months rolled into years. While we want to think he was always happy, fulfilled by his faith in Christ, his letters show us the struggles of a real martyr in a real world.

He had not seen his brother in a long time. To be honest, I doubt either of them really regretted the time which had slipped away between them. When they parted it was not exactly on the best of terms. Jacob and his twin brother Esau had a relationship bound up in turmoil and adversity form the very beginning. There was betrayal and fear and stolen birthrights. No doubt there was envy and bitterness and a father’s heart which broke for his sons.