Sunday, December 6, 2015
Even those who have done the Advent liturgy for years somehow are jolted by the appearance of John the Baptist. Perhaps, this jolting speaks of how much the secular society around us has impacted the way we do things in December. It rushes us toward Santa Claus, decorating, and gift buying. With everything around us pushing us toward the Christmas tree, it seems strange to entertain scripture passages which focus not on the Christmas narrative, but on this wild character who appears on center stage to do God's bidding. His message of readiness is far different from the dominant one heard from every direction. His message is a message of heart readiness.
John the Baptist made the bank of the Jordan River his pulpit. He used river water for holy purposes. His physical appearance brought to mind the Hebrews prophets and his message was one no one really wanted to hear. As folks gathered to hear him, they heard this message about repentance. They heard him preach about the need for personal inner change. They heard him declare that only a radical change of the heart would be an appropriate response to God who was getting ready to do something new and radical and life changing. As he preached about all of these things, he pointed people who listened to Jesus, the Lamb of God, who would provide a final solution to the sin problem of humankind.
If we read the story of John's ministry there at the Jordan, it would seem that folks flocked to hear him preach. As they went into the water for baptism, it surely seemed that they had truly heard. These are days for us to be listening to what God is saying to us. As we read these passages about the one who prepared the way, we are confronted with our own need for the change of repentance. But, then who is really hearing it? Who is really listening? Who is ready to respond?