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 axe 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.. NRSV’
John must have been so frustrated in his time. He could see the misplaced values and hopes of the people. He could see e political leaders feeding the politics and powers and economies of the empire of Rome instead of the Kingdom of God. He could see people being closed minded by choice to the false hopes of false Messiahs… All the while knowing God was about to be present with them, face-to-face.
The wilderness of Judea was a rugged and rocky mountainous area north of the historic city of Jericho. It was a place far from the holy places of Jerusalem. It was a place that apart. His perspective was out of a state and place of reflection. He appears calling for a turn around.
What is our world and community needs to be turned around? Repealed? Reformed? Repaved?
Who will follow in John the Baptizers footsteps for our generation?
Calling for the people to lead the way by making the first step, turning back toward God
Secondly who will call for integrity of our leaders in the community, county and church?
Third who will give the invitation for all to be baptized, made whole in body and spirit?
The temptation is to say: No Lord, you must be calling someone else.
But you and I are the ones who know he good news
We already know the power, gift and role of the church as Christ presence in he world.
You and I already have he perspective of the world through the eyes of Christ
We have all the John the Baptizer ever had and more… We could do his job, if we would
The church has one task, for all the good things we do, we have one essential role, to reveal to the people and world around us that God is present where ever gods people gather to worship, share and live. THIS is the Christmas give we need Br ready to share this year.
Scripture readings are from New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Psalms, Canticles, and Collects are from the Book of Common Prayer (1979), which has been placed in the public domain.