By the Rev. Daniel P. Richards
This week again we look at John the Baptist and his proclamation of Jesus. He is questioned in the Gospel about who he is and turns the focus away from himself to Jesus. This is, as I used to say to kids in school, a big idea that is important for us.
We are used to focusing on ourselves. We cannot control most of what goes on around us, but we can choose how we will live, how we will speak, how we will respond. This is the beginning of transformation.
But here John shows us that our next move is to move outward in faith, naming what God is doing. We have to take a big step outward in order to do this, and that makes most of us uncomfortable. We have to leave the comfort of our casual talk of self and others, observing, reporting, and gossiping. We have to walk out into the place of the prophet, proclaiming Christ.
I think this is scary because we assume the negative, somehow speaking for God means tearing things down, tearing people down. But here we see instead that we are called to declare God’s favor and forgiveness, grace and truth. We are called to speak God’s love first. We may have other things to say that are difficult in relationship as we grow together and have to address issues, but the first word is always love in God.
John says strong, bold things. But his word is the word Jesus will begin his ministry with: Change because the Rule of God has come. This is the essence of Advent. We must change our minds again, God is here.
Jesus’s way is prepared by John. How much easier would it be for those around us to hear God’s word of love and grace if we prepared the way, speaking love, mercy, and grace into their lives in all that we say.