[From Synod's Facebook Page]
Today we celebrate the birth of St. John the Baptist. The Lutheran Service Book includes the Nativity of St. John the Baptist among the "principal feasts of Christ." Since it was "in the sixth month" of Elizabeth's pregnancy that the Angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she would become the God-bearer, and since we celebrate our Lord's birth on December 24-25, the birth of the Baptist falls exactly six months prior. St. Bede the Venerable noted that this fulfilled (at least for us in the Northern Hemisphere) the saying of the Baptist himself: "He must increase but I must decrease." So after our Lord's birth we observe the amount of daylight growing and after St. John's birth we note the daylight beginning to diminish.
From the liturgy for this day: "Behold, I will send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. Through John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, You once proclaimed salvation. Now grant that we may know this salvation and serve You in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. Before I formed you in the womb I knew you and before you were born I consecrated you. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations. Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. ...whose way John the Baptist prepared, proclaiming Him the promised Messiah, the very Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and calling sinners to repentance that they might escape the wrath to be revealed when He comes again in glory."