Sunday, December 16, 2012

Advent XV

After the sermon and after the benediction comes the ritual of the door.  The preacher stands while parishioners pass.  It is not an uncommon thing for some remark to be made about the sermon.  The most popular is, "Preacher, I enjoyed the sermon."   Of course, there are also more honest things said.  "I want sermons that make me feel good when I leave on Sunday morning,"  was something I heard one Sunday.  I took it she had a problem with the sermon and maybe even the preacher!

Such folks would never stay in a church where John the Baptist was the preacher.  After a Sunday of his preaching, they would find themselves another place to worship--a place more comfortable where less offensive and threatening words were said.   It was likely that way for some who went out to the Jordan to hear this preacher about whom everyone was talking.  When he opened his mouth to preach saying, "Repent!  Get our life in order!  God is ready to do something.  You better get ready and you better do it now!" a lot of folks likely looked for their children and headed home.  One thing is certain. John was not into making people feel warm and fuzzy.

If we are really interested in getting ready for Christmas, we, too, will forget our need to feel good.  We, too, will listen to the message of this wilderness preacher who tells us that the most important thing is to make sure there is nothing in our heart which would cause us shame if Jesus were to suddenly appear in our midst.  Looking in our heart brings us to the hard questions of getting ready.  Have I forgiven those who hurt me?  Is being a servant  of God really more important to me than making sure those around me regard me with an attitude of respect and appreciation?  Is loving God and my neighbor really the guiding directive of my life?  Hard questions.  Heart questions.  Such is where John the Baptist takes us.  Who wants to go?

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