John the Baptist, whose candle – traditionally rose - we light on the Advent wreath on the third Sunday of Advent, was someone who knew very clearly what God had sent him to do. But when he was questioned about his identity, he answered mostly in terms of what he was not: not the Messiah, not Elijah, not the Prophet. He was born in extraordinary circumstances following a visit to his elderly father Zechariah from an angel; he was by all accounts a very special baby. But even before he was born, he seemed to have recognised the greater authority of Jesus, as he leaped in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary came to visit while she was pregnant with Jesus. So John was set apart from his conception to be a pointer to Jesus. ‘He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light’ (John 1:8). He dedicated himself to that role, preparing the way of the Lord, calling people to repent and be baptised – and ultimately he was executed by Herod for daring to speak the truth. And so we remember John the Baptist, not for his stylish demeanour or his eloquent speech, but for his raw, gritty determination to be the person God had created him to be. To bring a message that would be unpalatable for many, as he warned them of where they were going wrong, yet gave them an opportunity to change and to mark that change through baptism. All this with but one aim: to point people to the One who was to come, ‘the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie’. As we ponder during these last ten days of Advent, to what extent do our lives point to Jesus? Do we need to refresh our dedication to making him known, and to reduce our dependence on human recognition for the things we do for God? How might we ‘prepare the way of the Lord’ this Christmas?