Thursday, May 5, 2011
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness:‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” Luke 3:1-14
In the small town where we live, a coastal community that swells with summer visitors, it is not unusual to see for sale signs on many houses. People with lots of extra income love to buy a "shore home" and want it outfitted with the same luxuries they have at home. By the ocean, where the sights and sounds are beautiful and the breezes are extraordinary, many come and stay inside in their central air. Many sweet small cottages for sale say, "excellent tear-down." Folks build huge monstrosities complete with central air and flat screen TV everywhere. They hide themselves away from the world they come to enjoy. In a place where, during the summer, one really only needs a good book, a place to wash, sleep and cook, people want to be cosseted and tuned in elsewhere. How easy it is to not be content with what we have been given so abundantly.
John is asked about how one should live in preparation for meeting God. He gives them all a very simple answers - share what you have and be content with what you get. For this John is seen as an enemy of the religious leadership as well as the government. Power thrives on greed and desire. What John proposed would undo the hard work of power by asking folks to open their hearts to others and to accept what is around them as gifts. For teaching people how to welcome God he would lose his head. We are invited to turn and open our hearts to one another so that God may come in.
Today, I ask God to help me be content with what I have and to share the blessing. I ask God to open my heart so that I might care for others and in so doing welcome the living God. I ask for eyes to see the abundance around me so that I might rejoice in the gifts before me and be content with it all. May we all turn today so that we can share and welcome God for the sake for the world.