December 16, 2018
Many of our Advent scriptures sound harsh. Some even frighten us. On this third Sunday of Advent, Luke reports more of John the Baptist’s preaching, as well as his hearers’ reactions / responses. John’s language is stark and scary. “Bear fruits worthy of repentance.” “Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” His effort is to speak clearly. He’s seeking to convince his hearers to find in his confrontational style an opportunity to take an honest stock of themselves.
We may not enjoy John’s calling us a brood of vipers. Still, there’s no denying we know how low we can go! We also know how quickly and eagerly we can slither away from both challenges and threats to our selfish security. We even know how capable we are of shedding one kind of socially acceptable skin, to masquerade inside another, when it suits our interests.
At our 9:30 A.M., Sunday worship, in prayer, Word, song, sermon and Meal, we’ll hear John’s insistence that we repent as an opportunity to bear the fruits of authenticity, genuineness, and integrity. His words invite us to bear the fruits of identity, relationship, kinship and belonging; assuring us God wants us to live IN the world and not OF the world.