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Second Sunday of Advent C: December 5, 2021

Luke 3: 1-6

By Rev. John Tran

It is the Second Sunday of Advent, and what do we see in it? We still do not see in the gospel any sign of the manager and the child that will lay in it. Instead we see a wild looking man named John who crashes into our midst. John is a man who jolts us into our senses. He is the son of a priest, but he has nothing to do with the priesthood in Jerusalem. Instead, he is out in the wilderness, the same place that the Israelites rediscovered God as they escaped the slavery of Egypt.

John invites us to consider building and rebuilding. John is calling the Jews to rebuild their faith as their ancestors did in the desert; and we, too, are called to build up once again the Kingdom of God that Jesus both announced and made present among us. We constantly change our hearts to be that of Christ. This is a hard road.

We are so used to instant technology, anything from smart phones to fast jet, car and train travel. We lean on heavy earth moving equipment to make our way straight and take out all the dangerous curves and bumps in the road. But, John is calling us to be involved personally in the heavy labor.

Advent is the season for Christian “road works,” with John as our supervisor. With John’s voice we examine how to level out and straighten whatever is an obstacle or danger on our journey to God. What are the “potholes” in our discipleship, those sins of omission, the things we may mean to do, but don’t? How do we need to be converted so that we may make the way smoother for others who find it difficult to go to God because of our intolerant or unstable behavior? Do we engage in outburst of “road rage” towards our brothers and sisters as we all try to follow the gospel?

Let us do exactly what Advent calls us to be. In our own baptism we promise to become Baptizers like John this Christmas. So, let’s take on this word and become heralds like John as we go about or holiday preparations. May every kindness and generosity we give during this Holy Time mirror Christ’s presence in our midst. May we joyfully take the hard work of creating a highway through the rugged lands of estrangement and alienation. May the gifts and greetings and hospitality we extend proclaim the good news that God’s compassion had dawned.

William Bausch offers some suggestions as to how we might accommodate the Baptizer. “Make friends with someone you’re at odds with. Pick up the phone and talk to somebody you haven’t talked to in months or years. Be the first to hold out the hand of reconciliation even though it gets slapped or rejected. Don’t turn your head at shady dealings. Be willing to put some of your possessions on the line. Tithe, not out of your excess, but out of your substance. Add up the amounts you have set aside for your Christmas spending, and then slice off 10 percent and give it to the poor. Give evidence that you mean to repent.” Sally Koch reminds us that great opportunities to help others seldom come but small ones surround us every day. It takes only a minute to be kind, but the prophet reminds us the end result can remain forever and a day.

What crooked road can I straighten out this Advent and Christmas? How can my Christmas celebration proclaim Christ in our midst?

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