December 03, 2018
By Candace Whitman.
Rev. Candace Whitman is the pastor of Fishers Island Union Chapel, in Fishers Island, NY.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” ’
I am the kind of person who likes to be prepared. I am prepared with a sermon every Sunday. I come with notes to Trustee meetings. I joyfully prepare for guests, and love to go prepared to birthdays with a specially selected gift.
But I am not prepared for the change of seasons this year. I’ve been busy, and my summer clothes are still in my drawers, sweaters in the storage bin upstairs. The hostas need snipping in the garden, and I still haven’t looked for the small snow shovel I keep in my car just in case I am stuck in a storm.
I am not ready for winter, let alone Christmas, and yet Advent has begun.
I wonder if the people John preached to around the Jordan needed forgiveness for things like stealing and adultery, or was it more mundane? Did they simply have busy lives, pressing concerns? Did they become forgetful of God’s ancient promise of a Savior? Maybe that’s why John spoke so directly, in such sweeping terms of mountains and hills being made low. He needed to get their attention. Maybe he even shouted a little, because preoccupied people can be the hardest to reach. I know I have found myself far away in a spiritually barren place when there have been too many demands on my day.
John bids us to take a step away from our lives and come to the shores of change. God will take it from there. Repent for the sins we have committed and be forgiven. But we must turn also from a drift into the desert of preoccupations; don’t let daily anxieties take us to a lonely place. Once we turn, John says, Christ can be born in us.
In Advent, what matters is that John has come out of the wilderness to announce that God’s promise of a Savior has been fulfilled, and we the people of God need to come out of our wilderness as well.
God, you made and remake the world, and sometimes, we can’t keep up with the changes. Help us to step out of our wilderness, leave our anxiety behind, and walk with you on the shores of change.
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The United Church of Christ in Cornwall
Second Congregational Church, UCC
The First Congregational Church of Coventry, UCC
First Congregational Church, UCC
King Street UCC
This Week in History:
Dec. 5 1933, (85 years ago) The 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, repealing the 18th Amendment and ending the era of Prohibition. This marks the last and only time a U.S. Amendment has been repealed. Other Amendments have been modified through new laws and amendments, but never fully repealed.
Starting With Scripture: December 03, 2018 , by Candace Whitman.