Following the Star


Advent is a time of waiting. It is a time to prepare for the coming of Christ. But waiting doesn’t have to be boring, and preparation doesn’t have to be a chore.

Both can be filled with joy. And so we wait, with the joy of looking back and remembering God’s good works in the world and in our lives. And we prepare, bubbling with the delight-filled anticipation of setting up the party for an honored guest.

In hope, in trust, in thanksgiving, in joy let us lay our hearts before God.


Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.”

John 1:24-27


We were hard on substitute teachers, in my day. We’d vacate the classroom and file nonchalantly to some undisclosed location, answer to the wrong names, etc. Usually, no matter how awesome a substitute is, he or she is a poor replacement for the real teacher. They don’t know us as well or have as good a grasp on the material, but they’re doing their best to fill the shoes of the real-deal until the teacher shows up.

John the Baptist tells the Pharisees that he is just a substitute for the Messiah, doing his best with Jesus’ work until Jesus shows up. That is the task of every Christ follower – to do our best with Christ’s living, loving, and teaching, all the while trusting that Jesus has come and will come again. We serve and mimic one whose sandals we are not fit to tie, but who trusts us with the joys and responsibilities of service anyway. With hope in this promised coming, may we embrace our calling to share in Christ’s work.

Shelli Latham


Generous and loving God, your love and your works defy anything hoped for or dreamed of. Thank you for trusting and inviting someone like me to be part of your ministry in this world. I know it’s not possible to fill your shoes, but may I be the best version of myself, your servant, for your glory and for your world. Amen.


“Turn around and believe that the good news that we are loved is better than we ever dared hope, and that to believe in that good news, to live out of it and toward it, to be in love with that good news, is of all glad things in this world the gladdest thing of all. Amen, and come Lord Jesus.”

Frederick Buechner