John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” – Mark 1
This morning I’m going to pick up something from Rebekah’s sermon yesterday and run with it. Credit where credit is due… but also don’t blame her for what I may end up writing in this post!
It’s Advent, and the idea is all expectation, anticipation, preparation. Because of that, the teachings of John the Baptist are always in the mix. John was the one tasked with preparing people for the beginning of Christ’s ministry, and his appearance – “Prepare the way of the Lord!” – is important to this part of the Christian calendar.
“But,” Rebekah pointed out, “John is not exactly festive, glittery, warm and fuzzy, or a good visual for, ‘It’s the most beautiful time of the year.’ Seriously, how many Christmas cards have you received with a locust-munching, skin-wearing, honey-eating wild-man on the front yelling ‘REPENT!’ up in your face? Then open the card and it says, ‘Merry Christmas’ in sparkles?”
“However,” she continued. “John’s message may well be exactly what we need to hear, and understand, and live in response to.” Repent – turn around – and live as Children of Light!
Because Jesus was born into a very dark, oppressive world. It must have seemed – and sometimes it seems that way today – that the darkness was/is actually winning.
Called to be Light:
You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, so live your life as children of light. Light produces fruit that consists of every sort of goodness, justice, and truth. – Ephesians 5:8-9
It may have been, may be, a dark world; but then, born in a barn because the authorities forced his parents to travel even though Mary was “late with child,” Jesus showed up as a single, barely visible, pure spark of light. Before long the young family had to flee under threat of violence. They looked for and found asylum in Egypt.
Come to think of it we don’t see a lot of brutal Roman soldiers on Christmas cards either, do we? No street corner preacher yelling REPENT! while munching locusts. No authorities bullying a migrant family. No fear, no abuse, no injustice, no homelessness, no cold reality of despair…
Well, not on our Christmas cards. But we do see the same darkness. We do see the same injustice. We do witness the same pain.
So my question is, do we follow God’s example and introduce light?
- Do we choose to carry Jesus into the dark places?
- Do we dare to put John the Baptist onto our Christmas Cards?
- Do we dare to bring not just the glitter of Christmas but the warm, incisive, light of redemption into the world where God has purposed us to shine?