You won’t find John the Baptist at any manger scenes or on a Hallmark card, not even Advent cards. He wears a dusty camel’s hair coat, lives on locust and honey and smells of poverty.
If he showed up today, we would call the police, lock our doors and hide the children. But on this Second Sunday of Advent we meet this unpleasant prophet in today’s Gospel. (Luke 3: 1-6).
We have never received a Christmas card depicting John the Baptist: “Greetings from our house to your house, you brood of vipers. Every tree that does not bear fruit will be thrown into the fire….Merry Christmas!” We prefer the round, jolly fellow in the red, velour suit with a bag full of gifts for those who have too much already.
But for 2,000 years the Church has been telling us that if you want to get to the joy of Christmas, you have to go through the Jordan River where John the Baptist is baptizing. If you want to see the Christ child in the manger, you must first confront this crazy prophet. No Jesus without John!
Why? Because John’s message boils down to one word – one word that hits us between the eyes and explodes in our ears – REPENT!! Everything else is window-dressing.
John is telling us: 1. You don’t just repent because you got caught. 2. You don’t say, “I’m sorry” because it’s politically correct or it’s forced on you. 3. Repent is not just saying, “Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy, Lord, have mercy.”
REPENT! Means to turn your life around and to head in a whole new direction.
What new direction in YOUR life do YOU now need to take this Advent?
REMEMBER, IF YOU’RE HEADED IN THE WRONG DIRECTION, GOD ALLOWS FOR U-TURNS!