Sunday Thoughts

It's Advent. 
How are you doing what that? 
Do you have any special Advent traditions? 

Today's lectionary gospel reading is from Matthew 3. When I was serving at Zion in Stewartville, I always loved getting to preach on this text. Ol' Johnny the Baptizer calls some folks a brood of vipers, and for some reason, that has always tickled me. Just imagining him so full of righteous anger. He had a particular kind of boldness... a willingness to name injustice...to look powerful people in the face and say: "You are behaving like a pile of venomous snakes." 

Lately...I waiver between two realities. On the one hand, I have a deep desire to listen and understand where people are coming from...and on the other hand, I want to yell "You brood of vipers" (knowing full-well that I've got plenty of snake in my veins, too). 

Johnny takes the second approach. He provokes those operating out of a place of self-assuredness...and reminds them that they have no reason to be so certain of their "rightness." His strategy with the uber-religious is kind of like, "Hey, guess what, you're not that cool! You need to get your stuff figured out just like everyone else! And right now, you're off-track. Way off!"

I don't think John's approach means we're all called to do the same...at least not all the time. 

But just knowing that he did...that he was willing to...gives me courage. At least a dose of it. 

Listening is great. And important. 

But confronting injustice is important, too. 

May the Spirit lead us to know which approach to use - and when to use it. 

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