A close-up of a stained glass window in Trinity Church with green and white flowers over a yellow, red, blue, and white background

Five Ways Into Sunday’s Scripture: Good News, Indeed

LUKE 3:16–18

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

This is the third Sunday in Advent, the theme of which is expectant joy — in our readings and in our liturgical colors (pink) and practices. We shift eagerly from somber reflections of God’s past intervention in a troubled world to the coming of Christ among us. Oftentimes, Mary’s ecstatic visit with cousin Elizabeth, and her song, The Magnificat, lands on this Sunday. But this year, the pregnant anticipation comes from Luke’s gospel narrative on John the Baptist. And probably not many people would describe him and his delivery as particularly joyful, then or now. “You brood of vipers!” is how it begins. And yet, “…crowds came out to be baptized by him…” Despite the shaming, they embraced the novel idea that even they, viper or not, could be reborn, incarnated, rehydrated — in the river of God’s grace, and by their own choices and actions! Someone was coming to show them that God within us could even vanquish fear and death, and fear of death. Total game-changer. Good news, indeed! —Kathryn Carroll


Dr. Tod Worner reflects on the wild faith of John the Baptist. As G.K. Chesterton said, “It is the paradox of history that each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it most.”


Father Phil Jackson illuminates the role of John the Baptist as a “nobody from nowhere.”


Genesis by Rose B. Simpson, paired with Richard Rohr’s reflection on the image of God in all of creation — beginning with ourselves.


“Oh Happy Day” from First Baptist Church of Glenarden.


“On Joy and Sorrow” by Kahlil Gibran: “Some of you say, ‘Joy is greater than sorrow,’ and others say, ‘Nay, sorrow is the greater.’ But I say unto you, they are inseparable.”

Coming Up

The Very Rev. Dr. Michael Battle welcomes Thandeka Tutu to Trinity Church Wall Street for an exploration of the spiritual leadership and life of her father, Archbishop-Emeritus Desmond Tutu, this Friday, December 10, at 6:30pm. This event will include, but will not be limited to, a discussion of Dr. Battle’s latest book, Desmond Tutu: A Spiritual Autobiography of South Africa’s Confessor. Join us in person at Trinity Church or online via Trinity's website or Facebook page.

The new Discovery series — Spirituality, Christian Identity and Leadership: The Worldview of Desmond Tutu — continues this Sunday at 10am. The Very Rev. Dr. Michael Battle, Professor of Church and Society and Director of the Desmond Tutu Center at The General Theological Seminary, joins the Trinity community for a series based on his new book, Desmond Tutu: A Spiritual Autobiography of South Africa’s Confessor.

Contemplative Practice with Poetry meets Wednesdays at 6:30pm. Join for a practice of guided meditation and contemplative reflection with poets and artists, for mutual spiritual support and growth, led by spiritual directors John Deuel and Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones.