Advent Reflections: John the Baptist and the Kingdom of God (6)

john baptist

 This is the sixth in a series of Advent reflections on Luke 3:7-18.

 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. – Luke 3:15-18 (NRSV)

 

Consider the last verse of the passage. Sometimes when I read this passage, I really wonder what the Good News is. After all, what Luke has documented is brood of vipers, a ready ax, a winnowing fork, and unquenchable fire. What is the Good News?

The Good News is that repentance and forgiveness are available

  • for people who may seem no more to us than a face in the crowd,
  • for tax collectors,
  • for Roman soldiers and mercenaries –
  • and for you and me.

The Good News is that God’s Kingdom is near. The Good News is that Jesus is coming. In response, just like those at the Jordan River, we ask, “What should I do?”

We ask this not as a condition of salvation but as a response to the grace we have already received.

The fruit we bear is a response, a thanksgiving, a celebration of Christ’s birth and our certain hope that God’s Kingdom is near. It is in the hope, peace, joy and love of this season that we ask, “What should I do?”

Advent is a time of preparation not only for a birth but for the day when Christ comes again in full glory. We’re not just celebrating the birth of a baby, but the audacity of the incarnation. We prepare not only for a remembrance of what was, but in anticipation for what will be – and in response, determine who we will live an incarnate faith in this time and place we live in.

The question becomes, not “what should I do” but “what will I do.”

The Kingdom of God is near, what type of fruit do you bear? Do you hear John’s voice calling us to repentance? Do you hear Jesus’ voice calling us to incarnate faith?

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