The Second Sunday of Advent 2020: Bulletin Art and Column

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Second Sunday of Advent

December 6, 2020

Dear Believers in the Christ,

Mark 1: 1-8 reveals the forerunner of Jesus. John the Baptist, a cousin of Jesus cries out on behalf of the Kingdom. His voice echoes across generations. Be ready. Be prepared. Remain open-hearted. Our salvation is at hand. Baptism becomes our new identity. Our sin melts away in the forgiveness of Christ.

John spends his life facing into the direction of the Kingdom of God. His very soul points to Jesus, the Messiah. He knows and feels the Light.  He wants the best for us as well, his mighty hand points toward love. The Kingdom is close upon us. I love John because he knows who he is and what his life is all about. He lives a selfless life. His simplicity speaks in the hot desert. His clothing and food are both for sheer survival and nothing else. John speaks to me even more in my aging. His hot breath proclaims the Kingdom. His strong voice washes over valleys and desert mountains even in our time when society is drenched with corruption, insincerity and injustice.

John’s voice is a hot torch. His manner challenges the rich and comfortable. His tenacity stretches for generations. John becomes the spokesperson for Kingdom riches. In his simplicity, he has no room in his heart for duplicity and dishonesty. John, the first New Testament prophet, is mightier than corruption, and stronger than hatred. John is my favorite scriptural super-hero.

John rattles our notions of Advent. Advent is the time when we muster the courage to pray and work for all that is unjust and unsettled. We rouse such hope because the Incarnation changes everything. God-with-us, the meaning of the Incarnation, summons us to find God in all things. It is only our sin that separates people. The Incarnation is a reminder that all people are one. All people are united in this unbelievable gift on the earth.

Advent is the time we pray for justice in our world and Church. Christmas, that is the Incarnation, is meant for all people in equal measure. This is why we pray for the hungry, the abused and the uneducated. This is why our hearts go out to those who have been abused or who have to fight for their place in the Church.  This is why we give gifts, because we have been given the gift of God’s Son from heaven. Justice is an expression of love that is the Kingdom we celebrate at Christmas.

Our task is to model our lives after John. We need to point to those who most need acceptance, forgiveness and hope. If we are to read this gospel in Advent, then we are to live this reality far into a new year. We have been bombarded with illness, injustice and violence during this past year. I pray that we can cling to John’s camel hair garment and learn to follow him in the heat of the deserts we face in our world.

On every Second Sunday of Advent, the gospels invite us to consider John. However, this year feels different to me. We need him more than ever. We need a steady ride on this rollercoaster of pandemic and racial violence and political divides. John must speak out louder this year, because we just don’t seem to hear him rumble the forests with sounds of reform, repentance, and remorse for wrongdoing. 

John does not present a childish Advent. His presence in the scriptures does not console at first glance. There is no Hallmark Christmas card that bears his image or no meme of his on social media. John is not a cozy winter fire. He is a fire of pure love for the marginalized and those who experience injustice and hate. He is not waiting for a child to be born. His is waiting for all the brokenness of the world to be united in the coming of the Savior. John’s voice is hoarse in his crying out. He is exhausted by his challenge.  

John says to us that he is not worthy to untie the sandals of the Master. His humility sends chills down my spine. I so desperately want to see what he saw. I want to see the face of the Messiah, Jesus, who is the Christ. If we can repent and believe, we shall hear the voice of the One who loves us beyond imagining. When justice flourishes in our world, upon the globe on which we all live, we shall see the miracle of Christ redeeming us. We shall find ourselves at the end of John’s finger, touching the face of the Beloved. And that, shall be called, Christmas!

God give you peace,

Fr. Ron

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