Advent 2 :: Fleeing from, or to, God?

“Who warned you to flee...?”

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Getting brighter!

There is something about these words of John the Baptizer that sends shivers down my spine. I know that he is confronting the religious rulers of his day—Sadducees and Pharisees, the men who regulated right worship and religious practice for a whole nation—by delivering a one-two knockout punch in calling them out as slimy vipers and casting aspersions on their patronal lineage. But the words really seem to hit home for me.

Yes, I could be, for lack of a better term, considered a modern day Pharisee [no Sadducee am I, for they didn’t believe in the resurrection!]. After all, I am charged with regulating right worship and religious practice as a priest of the Episcopal Church. John’s words don’t strike at me because of all that. And, yes, I’ve been called out as something much worse than a slithery, slimy, snake-in-the-grass and I must admit—to my shame—that I have taken advantage of my privileged, white, male lineage. But that’s not why John’s words give me fits either.

It is that I am a sinner.

I mess up. I fall so short of God’s call for me to be holy as God is holy. Pride, avarice, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, sloth: I am guilty of them all. I strive to be that which I am not. And I fail miserably. Actually, we all fail miserably. After all, we’re human. That is what we do!

So, when John emphatically shouts: “Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” it sends shivers all through me, because there is still that little part of me which feels that God would be justified to squash me like a bug.

But the major part of me—and, I hope, of all of us—knows that is not what God is about. God is about casting the Divine lot with us to show us how to live—in spite of our sinful selves—as a redeemed, forgiven, and loved people. God-become-human, Immanuel, child in a manger, savior on a cross, God loves us so much that, instead of fleeing from God’s wrath, we should run into God’s embrace!

Thanks be to God! 

RCL Lections for the Second Sunday of Advent, Year A

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