Sunday, December 5, 2010
Crying in the Wilderness
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:`Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'" Now John wore clothing of camel's hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, `We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. "I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." Matthew 3:1-12
This second Sunday of Advent, as we prepare for the coming of Christ anew into our lives, this is a time of new beginnings and preparing our hearts. We hear John warning us not to go through the motions but to bear our souls in earnest to the one who is calling us as brothers and sisters all of the living God. When I was a child, my brother and I used to practice full immersion baptism in the ocean. We acted our what we learned, exaggerating every motion and holding the other under the water for as long as possible. We would dunk the other and scream, "In the name of the Father!", letting the other up for breath when arms flailed too much. No matter that we mimed it all, we knew that baptism was a critical part of our lives, critical to who we are. We, in our innocence and foolery, knew so how that Old and New Testament met at this moment when cousin baptised cousin and the whole world was invited into the family.
Baptism, the baptism of Jesus by John and our baptisms today, are our inclusion into the body of Christ, the full membership into the family of God. How throughout history we have tried to exclude one group or other from the family. And how, over and over again, God has changed our hearts to include all. More and more family, more and more relations. We are knit permanently into this family by baptism, by John's baptism and y our own baptism. This is the season to open our hearts to our baptism and to get in touch with our family, mending broken relationships and asking God to mend our broken hearts.
Today, I ask God to make my heart pliable and open. I ask God to hel;p me put any hurt and pain aside so that I can see and know all as my family. As God has taken me in and held me in my darkest hours, may I be an instrument of that love and welcome that makes us all family in God.
I heard the voice of Jesus say, "come unto me and rest,and in your weariness lay down your head upon my breast." I came to Jesus as I was, so weary worn and sad; I found in him a resting place and he has made me glad.