John the Baptizer was not someone with whom you could have a friendly chat. He was not someone you would invite home for dinner. The Gospel portrays him as intense – confrontational – accosting people on their journey. Having them recreate the people of Israel crossing the Jordan and reclaiming the promised land and the covenant. He didn’t cajole them – he commanded them.
Which made me wonder what if John were to approach us outside of Walmart this afternoon. What might he say to us?
“You herd of shoppers! You reckless consumers of the creation’s resources.”
“Who warned you to flee from seeing the real state of God’s people. Who told you to wall yourselves off from the needs of the poor?
You want to escape the judgment of having so much while others have so little.
You work so hard to add a few more things to the stack of stuff you wall up behind locked doors. While children, and elders struggle to simply have shelter and enough food to sustain them another day.”
“Live your life in way that shows to others what you say you believe. It is not enough just to say the words in worship – or to delude yourself that having the idea is enough – you have to make the hard decisions. You have to live it out.”
“It is not enough to claim membership in a church. You have to claim the values and responsibility of being a follower of Jesus. If all he wanted was more Episcopalians God would create them. What God wants only you can create – a heart that cares for all of God’s people. A will that can cause you to live for all of God’s people and not yourself alone. A fire within you that compels you to work for justice, freedom and peace for ALL God’s creation image not just people of specific color, identity or preference.
It is the fruit of your life that will show whether or not you are a disciple of Jesus. It is the content of your heart and the actions of your life not your checking account balance or possessions that impress God.
The Lord doesn’t want to hear you complain – “But I can’t change the world I am only one person.” You need to do what you are able to do – change yourself, really live out your priorities, make the world around you a better place. You cannot do everything so pick something you can do and can change. You may not be able to end hunger in the world but can you envision helping in a community program to feed the hungry children in your neighborhood? You cannot take care of the needs of all elders but is there one home bound person you can call or visit once a month?
The time is now to prepare – not for the holiday but for the coming of the Lord –
The Lord is coming not in cloud & majesty
Not in power and triumph like a king
The Lord is coming to God’s people in the quiet and in the shadows.
And you can be part of that coming
By the way in which you live, the ways in which you care for creation and Gods people, and in how you make a difference in the lives of those around you… and those around the globe.
The time is now. Prepare the way of the Lord