Part 1: Advent Now and Again Isaiah 2.1-5 Matthew 24.36-44
I was in Walmart the other day and was really hungry. I was looking at the deli ham and grabbed the largest, cheapest pack I could. After all it said, GREAT VALUE. The fact of the matter is: it was NOT the Black Forest Honey Baked Ham is claimed to be. It was a knock off brand if I may. During the Christmas season, there are lots of knock off brands…cheap substitutes for what Christmas is all about which do not recognize Advent is a real season…and that there is one every year, now…that also points to one THEN…in the future when Jesus comes in all his glory…AGAIN! This series will attempt to take advent seriously, but will hopefully not show a solidarity with the ‘war on Christmas’ either.
Part 2: “Dear John…” Matthew 3.1-12
John the Baptist is NOT a welcomed presence in our Christmas-y time. And yet here he is…again as he is every year…daring to suggest that repentance is required to even get to Jesus in the first place. Imagine a Christmas Card…on the front it says Merry Christmas and on the inside: Repent or else! Nice.
And so what I do is write a ‘Dear John…’ letter to Dear John. No love lost here!
Many people, not just John, found Jesus to be an enigma. Many do today. What’s an enigma? Someone or something that is profoundly puzzling or mysterious. I’m wondering if part of what makes someone or something an enigma has something to do with one’s perceptions. John, in the wilderness saw Jesus, the Messiah as one who would ‘clean house’ so to speak…be a mean Paul Bunyan, chopping down trees and burning them. Jesus says, “You’re a good man, John the Baptist, the greatest who ever lived, but the Messiah is not a maid who cleans house. The messiah is not someone who comes to meet your expectations but rather someone who comes to meet the needs of all those…ALL those on the fringes of society. The messiah is not about massacre but rather forgiveness, healing and mercy.”
So…does Jesus REALLY answer John’s question? Yes and No. Well isn’t THAT an enigma?! You can decide for yourself.