Thursday, December 16, 2010
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Matthew 3:1-7
I woke up a bit late this morning, a little exhausted this time of year and feeling very much like rolling back over and sleeping more. Our eldest came in a sat on the bed and we talked for a bit. My husband is out visiting his mother and we are two girls on our own. We talked about nothing particular, sharing weird dreams and laughing. The cat crawled up with us and I noticed that there was an indentation across my hand, like an invisible bloodless sword slash. I wondered where I got it from, and where I had wedged my hand. And we looked at our hands, mother and daughter, our lives embedded in the daily work and expression our hands hold. The muscle memory of all the hugs and caresses, the balled up fists, the piano and guitar music played and the grasping for a hand to hold. John says God is at hand, and looking at my hands, the personal and unique instruments that they are, small and stubby but also strong and expressive, I thought anew about God being at hand.
John was a prophet, shouting in the wilderness and people came to him for repentance and release. They knew that they would find some freedom and release as they came up from the water, as they reached their hands from the water to the sunshine and light. And yet some came, to observe only, to mock the religious fervor, and to object to John's words. And there are always some who will mock, but we are promised, if we go down to the river, we will come up free and relieved. If we will let go to God's love and be washed we will be made new.
In this season of waiting and preparation, I want to remember that God is at hand. Every time I see my own hands or feel the touch of another I want to remember that God is at hand. God present in the world through us and in us calling us all to come to the river, to let go our burdens and shame and be cleansed, renewed and reborn in the incarnate child in Bethlehem.