Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rough Places Made Level

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

Yesterday began our Southeast clergy conference which will be followed this evening with the deanery meeting. From our sharing we found that many places, churches and people are in transition, and transitions can be rough and uneasy times. But they can also provide us with the possibility of new life, the times of new dreams and new visions, and make us creative problem solvers.

We hear today from our Gospel of the preparation for the coming of Jesus and his ministry among people. John the Baptist reminds the people of God's promises from the prophet Isaiah. He also challenges them to change their lifestyles and their selfish ways. As only John can do, he tells the truth to people who really don't want to hear it, and yet they flock to him still. We are invited by God today to turn and face the truth of our lives and seek the new dreams and new directions that are coming from the hand of God.

Today, I ask God to help me listen in the midst of these busy times to the call of the Baptist. May we open our lives to new direction and new inspiration from God in this Easter season. And may we turn and turn again until God makes shapes and remolds us to serve the world in Christ's name.

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