Thursday, December 15, 2011

This Is The One

December 15, 2011

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent

For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great tenderness I will take you back. In an outburst of wrath, for a moment I hid my face from you; But with enduring love I take pity on you, says the LORD, your redeemer…So I have sworn not to be angry with you, or to rebuke you. Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, My love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the LORD, who has mercy on you. Isaiah 54:7-8, 9b-10

"What did you go out to the desert to see a reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine garments? Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously are found in royal palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom Scripture says: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, he will prepare your way before you. I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John; yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he." Luke 7:24b-28

Father, we know that you will always take us back. Through your Son, we have the model of obedience to your Word even though we may not always act upon what we hear. In this holy season of Waiting, send your Spirit upon us to strengthen our resolve despite the distractions and temptations of the world so that we may put our relationships right with you and right with the people we love in this world. Amen.

The seeds of rejection are already being sewn into sacred scripture even as we are in the waning days of Advent.

First, we recall rejection from the Hebrew Bible when the Lord temporarily rejected His people. Yes, we were banished from Eden. Yes, the flood waters deluged the lands of Noah. However, Isaiah promises us a God who gets over it. We are promised a God who has meted out our punishment and seeks reconciliation with us, he seeks to put our relationship back on the right track.

In the Gospel, Jesus basically tells the messengers to John that he is "the One." Put into context, this exchange occurs right after one of the resurrection stories in the New Testament. This was not simply a healing story like the illness which befell the centurion's slave. In the city of Nain, when Jesus comes across a grieving widow who now faces burying her son, he commands the body in the coffin to "Arise!" When fear grip the people at what they have just witnessed, they realize that "God has visited his people." (Luke 7:16c)

This is an Epiphany moment for John and those who understand what Jesus is saying and doing. People are already beginning to accept Jesus as more than just a great prophet. Thus, when John sends messengers to find out if Jesus is the one, the Lord puts his mission into context as the mission of the one who comes after the voice in the desert. John fully understands the meaning of this message from Jesus. However, the Pharisees will not. Despite the early string of miracles, they already begin to dig in their heels in opposition to Jesus. They refuse to believe what they see and hear. The seeds of a more permanent rejection are now sown. They turn their back on the chance to awaken to God in their midst.

For us, it is easy to get caught up in the narrative of the season…a season of awaiting the miracle of the Baby. Yet, readings like those in today's Good News remind us that Christmas is only half the story. We cannot completely enjoy the promise of Advent and the Christmas season without knowledge that Easter is to come and the only path to Easter is the way of the cross of rejection.

We do not have to let the seeds of rejection take root in our lives. Where can you pull out the weeds of rejection and restore a relationship that needs restoring? Whether or not you have done anything "wrong" or not, is there someone you can call, write or visit to repair a relationship which is not on the right track?