What I’m Thinking: Joy and the Stern Prophet

John the Baptist, who opens his sermon by calling his congregation “vipers,” gets center stage on the Third Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Joy. His words, harsh as they are, do create a foundation for joy. They promote more constructive relationships than the ones we generally live.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the third chapter of Luke (Luke 3:7-18), the entrance of John the Baptist and his message into Luke’s Gospel. John, that sternest of the prophets, who begins his words by calling his hearers “you brood of vipers.”

That is not somebody who is softening his message for his hearers.

And our lectionary editors have given us this stern prophet for the Third Sunday in Advent, the Sunday of Joy.

This past Sunday at Church of the Holy Cross, we went out Christmas caroling for some of our homebound members of friends, and at one house, the person we visited just said over and over and over again how happy she was to have us stop and visit. At another house, the grand-grandchild would, at the end of each Christmas carol, clap his hands together: showing his joy even though he doesn’t have words to express it yet.

Matched with this, we have our stern prophet, yet I think both are in character for the Sunday of Joy.

Joy is so rooted in human relationship, and John the Baptist’s message is all about sound and loving human relationships, turning away from the destructive behaviors of the past, turning towards new, more constructive ways of living in the future.

In that future, we can see and hear the baby applauding and the kupuna expressing her happiness.

In that future we will know the depths and the heights which this Sunday of Joy merely hints at.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , , | Posted on December 9, 2018

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