Advent 2 C


2 Advent Sunday – C- Homilies
Introduction to the Celebration

Why do we gather here each Sunday to celebrate the sacred meal of the Lord? Because as we say later: when we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Now in Advent we recall the past when Jesus first gathered disciples, but we also remember the future when he will come again in glory. Then we will be delivered from all that binds us, but before then we must take John the Baptist as our model: ‘we must prepare a way for the Lord’ within the world we live in.

-Thomas O'Loughlin
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General Comments

On the second and third Sundays of Advent, the church gives us John the Baptist as a model of someone who knows how to wait. In this first passage we have Luke’s summary of the mission of John the Baptist. It is none other than the mission of Jesus himself and of all preachers of the gospel.

In verses 1 and 2 St Luke invites us to meditate on God’s word which comes to John in the wilderness, bypassing the powerful ones of the world.

Verse 3 is a concise summary of John’s (and Jesus’) preaching. There are two aspects to verses 4 and 5: the fact that John lived out the vocation of Isaiah, and then the content of his preaching expressed in poetic language. We are invited to identify with both aspects.

-Michel de Verteuil
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Gospel: Lk 3:1-6

The majesty of the opening of this passage — the most elaborate chronograph found in any early Christian document — alerts us to the fact that Luke sees this passage as marking a major division in his whole narrative: the story of the infancy and youth of Jesus is over, the great work of proclamation is about to begin. This is the parallel passage within his telling of the story of Jesus to the opening lines of Mk; and from Mk he takes over Isaiah 40:3 and then adds another two verses from the same prophet so that at the end of today’s reading we have Is 40:3-5 (neither of the other synoptic writers have such a long quotation from Isaiah).

Luke’s aim is to make one point with the greatest force: at a precise moment in history something happened, but that event was not random but part of the long-revealed divine plan. The outsider might think of Jesus’s coming as just the appearance of one more person on the religious scene, but that event was prepared by the work of John the Baptist, and that work of John was itself foretold in the ancient scriptures. Jesus is to be seen as the fulfillment of the history of revelation. This is a theme found throughout first-century Christian writing, but no writer is as insistent as Luke in repeating the theme: if you want to understand Jesus, you must know how he fulfills God’s plans long-revealed to Israel. For Luke, only history explains Jesus; and indeed, in turn, only through Jesus does that history make sense. We see Luke’s approach to the first part of this in the way that he writes sermons in Acts which he then puts into the mouths of the apostles; and to the second in the Emmaus ‘lecture over supper’ when all the scriptures (i.e. the accounts of the history of Israel) are explained by Jesus in terms of himself.

However, why the elaborate chronograph (from which, incidentally, all our AD dating is ultimately derived)? At first sight the reason is obvious: he has to locate the moment of the Christ whose history he is going to narrate so that all events prior to it are clearly so labeled. However, it is possible that Luke wishes to make a more elaborate theological point: the coming of Jesus is the entry of God into the particularity of human existence, and this particular individual, while sharing the limitations of every other human being (we only come into existence in one place at one moment in one situation in one culture — and have all the limitations that historical natures impose on us), is also of relevance on a much larger scale. So it is the appearance of another preacher from Galilee, but it affects the Temple (Annas and Caiaphas) which is the focus of the whole scattered people of Israel; it affects the whole of the Land given to their Fathers (hence Pilate, Herod, Philip, Lysanias who represent each of the regions that made up the historical ‘Holy Land’), and all humanity (the oikoumene / empire represented by Tiberius). Luke seems to be implying that while Jesus was a discreet individual at a precise point in time, he was also the person to whom all history relates.
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John Littleton,

Reflection

John the Baptist was the herald chosen by God to prepare the way for Christ. The call to abandon sin ani become repentant was central to his preaching. Prior to his ministry, he spent time in the wilderness because he knew that penance and conversion were necessary as he prepared for the Messiah’s arrival. Retreating from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and seeking prayerful silence is essential if we are to discern God’s will as it challenges us to obey tho commandments and to be free from sin. Being in the wilderness, regardless of how we discover and experience it, when used constructively, fosters the deepening of holiness because it is where we truly encounter God.

We observe from John’s preaching that the word o God was his most prized possession. God’s word taught him that God’s promise to send the Messiah would indeed be realised. John subsequently shared that consoling and challenging message with the people, hoping that they would respond as he had responded. He was a strong, prophetic figure who provided an example of how we need not be afraid to confront the evils of our time.

John’s witnessing was so dramatic and convincing that many people would have been happy to follow him and declare their allegiance to him. Yet, for all of his influence and the possibilities of establishing himself as their spiritual leader, he insisted that he was preparing the way for someone much more significant than him: the Messiah. He obviously believed that he could not be deflected from his main task through being fooled by the short-term adulation offered by his listeners.

The season of Advent invites us to be credible and courageous witnesses to the Good News. We are encouraged to avoid the danger of becoming arrogant by promoting our own name and fame instead of the name and power of Jesus Christ. Then other people will notice our prophetic lifestyles in a rapidly expanding secular world. Just as John the Baptist provided a suitable opportunity for Christ to come into people’s lives without confusing them between himself and Christ, we do the same. John preached the truth because God had decreed that human beings would be saved by the truth.

During Advent we are encouraged to spend time in silence discerning God’s will and the Church’s teaching. We reflect on what we believe to be our most prized possession and we check whether or not it is compatible with the word of God. We generously share Christ’s consoling and challenging message with the people we meet. And we courageously witness to the teaching of Christ and his Church by the sincerity of our convictions.

As Christians, our lifestyle is meant to be different from those around us who are not Christian. If John the Baptist worked alongside us, would he, for example, hear us swearing or see us being uncharitable? And if he did, would he turn a deaf ear or a blind eye?

Many of us are reluctant to speak about our faith and share it with others. The challenge of the Good News is to become humble disciples, always permitting the name and power of Jesus Christ to take precedence over our own name and fame. Like Johv the Baptist, we are called to be people of hope and expectation awaiting the coming of Christ at Christmas and at the moment of death.
 

Homily notes 

1. We can view repentance in two ways. Looking backwards it can be a question of making up for what has been done in the past. Looking forwards it can be getting the matter sorted out and making sure that, as far as possible, the problem does not come back. As with all such 'two ways of looking at some­thing', people will then say that this is just a matter of whether you are an optimist or a pessimist, or whether you think that the bottle is half-full or half-empty. But the issue of repentance is more complicated that just manifestations of two ways of looking at life. We can see this by asking which view is embodied in most institutions in the societies to which we belong? We want criminals to go to prison: it is a time to 'pay back' for the past. We want criminals 'to get what they deserve' on account of their deeds in the past. We want compensation for the past, we want reparation for the past, and we very often want vengeance.

Penitence - as the word is used in such words as penitentiary or penal - is linked to a belief that if someone has done something wrong, then later they must suffer for that crime, and somehow that later suffering 'makes up for the past'. How it could make up for the past is another question: we seem to certainly want 'people to pay'. This notion that penitence is linked to the past, that it is someone' getting his /her just deserts', is found in every society. Indeed, paying up for the past with suffer­ing is often seen as the essence of justice. The people who come out of a court when a criminal who has hurt them has been sentenced to a long sentence often say 'we have finally got justice!'

2. This is certainly the human perspective, but is it something that we as Christians who believe in a God of love can accept as just a 'fact of life'? Certainly, many Christians in the past, and indeed today, imagine God as the great score-settler: if people don't pay in this life, then 'divine justice' will get them in the end. Hell, then, is imagined as God's final reck­oner. Indeed, many contemporary Christians are schizo­phrenic about hell: they find it repulsive to believe in hell for themselves, but are quite happy that it should be there so that God can finally grind out his justice - on others. But is this view, however common, an adequate expression of what Christians hold as their story of God's dealing with humanity?

3. The prophets - we have the examples of Isaiah and John the Baptist in today's readings -- were in no doubt that people sinned and that the people of God had fallen into sin. Yet, when they call the people 'to repent' they start looking for­ward not backwards. To repent is to start anew, to make sure that the former ways disappear, that a new way of living ap­pears. The repentance is the act of preparing the way for the Lord to Come along. Repentance is change so that in the future all can see the salvation of God.

4. Christians have never been in doubt that humanity had fallen into sin and needed a redeemer. But to say it needed a re­deemer is to look forward. God's justice was not the destruc­tion of the sinful people, but to send his Son. When Jesus came he was not here to punish for the past, but to be the re­deemer who would open up the future after sin and its effeCts. Jesus called us to a new way of living, he did not come 'to call to account' for the past.

5. When the church has preached penitence, it is as a medicine to train the person in a new way of living. We come as sick people to the source of healing (St lhomas). 'God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins' (Formula of Absolution). God is love, not vengeance - but.this is a very hard notion for us to grasp and to believe. lhe problem is as old as Ezekiel: 'Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?' (18:23); 'For I have no pleasure in the death of any one, says the Lord God; so turn, and live' (18:32); 'Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, 0 house of Israel?' (33:11). And we, two millen­nia after seeing how God deals with his people - he sent them the Christ whose coming we are preparing to celebrate - seem to have as much difficulty in looking forward and seeing repentance as starting afresh with God's love.

6. But believing that God gives a new future to those who turn to a new way of thinking, living, acting, loving is just part of the task. We are called not merely to follow the Christ who brought the Father's love in his coming among us. We are called to become like him in our lives. As there is no place for vengeance, and no place for getting a 'pay back' for the past in God dealing with us; then there must be a similar desire to let people start over again among us. 1his is what we pray: 'forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.'

7. Christmas recalls God's great new start with humanity: Jesus the New Adam. We hear that proclaimed today in the call to repent and to prepare the way. But if we want Jesus to come within our own lives today as he once came in Bethlehem, then we must be prepared to turn from notions of vengeance and become people of forgiveness who look forward. Looking forward is far more difficult than looking backwards - we should honestly admit that as a fact about the human condition, most of us both as individuals and as groups are better at raking over old hurts than at looking for new ways to co-operate with one another. Yet it is only when we adopt this habit of looking forward that we can truly become Christ-like. We see Jesus's way of looking forward in what he said to the woman they wanted to stone as payment for her past: 'Go your way, and from now on do not sin again' an 8:11). The task was to set out into the future: 'Go'; and start a new way of living: 'do not sin again'.

8. We are looking forward to Christmas: the Christ we seek to welcome calls us to look forward in the way we live - this is repentance and preparing the way; and he calls us to look forward to his own coming in glory.

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 Scripture prayer

“I thank you, Father, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever
and revealing them to mere children.”     
Luke 10:21
Lord, we forget your way of doing things.
We think it is important to seek the favour of the great ones of the world,
as if their patronage is necessary for the spread of your gospel,
while we neglect the wisdom of the poor.
But your word has always bypassed
* Tiberius Caesar reigning for 15 years,
* Pilate, the great governor,
* those powerful tetrarchs Herod, Philip and Lysanius,
and come to a humble person, living in the wilderness.

Lord, we remember a time when we were in the wilderness:
* our family relationships were at their lowest level;
* at work everything seemed to be going wrong;
* violence and crime ruled in the country;
* our prayer life was as dry as dust.
Yet within that very wilderness there was a voice within us,
crying out that things would turn out right.
We felt so sure of this that, even in the midst of all that desolation,
we prepared a way for your coming and made the paths straight
so that we would be there to welcome you.
We saw some deep valleys and wondered how we would ever get across them,
but we knew that every one of them would be filled in.
There were high mountains before us; they would all be laid low.
The road was winding, so that every time we turned a corner another one appeared;
it would be straightened. As for the rough roads that had our feet sore and bleeding,
they would become smooth as glass.
We knew for sure that we would experience your salvation. Thank you, Lord.

“We live in a world where no one cares.” School principal, The Trinidad Express, 10 November 1991
Lord, we pray that in our heartless world the church may, like John the Baptist,
fulfil what is written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Isaiah,
and be a voice crying out to those who feel themselves in a wilderness
that you have not abandoned them, that every valley will be filled in,
every mountain and hill laid low,
winding ways will be straightened and rough roads made smooth.

“If all people are God’s children, why are we rejoicing when our sons and daughters are safe
while death and destruction is wreaked upon innocent people?”
Religious Superiors of the USA after the Gulf War
Lord, we still need John the Baptist to teach us your will that all must see your salvation.

“A critical ingredient of the Caribbean today is collective self-knowledge
as the vital pre-condition to collective self-possessiveness.”    
Lloyd Best
Lord, give us the grace to know that what we are doing
is written in the books of the sayings of the prophets.
 

 ILLUSTRATIONS:

1.  Story: Boys Playing Basketball – and MJ

Once upon a time a group of young people (teen age boys if the truth be told) were playing basketball on the parish courts. A bald African American man, with a large diamond in his ear, strolled up and watched them. He looked kind of familiar but the boys knew it couldn’t be. He asked if he might play. He was taller than any of them and they weren’t sure. He promised he would not rebound. So they let him play. He was pretty good. In fact he was truly excellent. Without even working up a sweat, he made three point jump shots, lay-ups, hooks, and even shots with his eyes closed. Either hand too. They had seen this style before, but they still didn’t believe it was the one they thought it might be. Then he spent about fifteen minutes giving them tips which were really radical.  

Hadn’t they seen this act in TV ads? But it would never happen in their parish, would it? Then he thanked them for letting him play and ambled away. They kind of wanted to follow him to see if he really drove a Chevy, because that would have clinched it . But they didn’t. They didn’t tell anyone about what happened. Who would believe that MJ himself had come to their school yard and shot around with them. Besides they didn’t believe it was really him. 

2. "Dam up the Detroit River, and baptize the entire city!"

William P. Barker tells about a machinist with the Ford motor company in Detroit who had, over a period of years, "borrowed" various parts and tools from the company which he had not bothered to return. While this practice was not condoned, it was more or less accepted by management, and nothing was done about it. The machinist, however, experienced a Christian conversion. He was baptized and became a devout believer. More important, he took his baptism seriously. The very next morning, he arrived at work loaded down with tools and all the parts he had "borrowed" from the company during the years. He explained the situation to his foreman, added that he'd never really meant to steal them and hoped he'd be forgiven. The foreman was so astonished and impressed by his action, that he cabled Mr. Ford himself, who was visiting a European plant, and explained the entire event in detail. Immediately Ford cabled back: "Dam up the Detroit River," he said, "and baptize the entire city!" [TARBELL'S TEACHER'S GUIDE, Vol. 82, (Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell, 1986).] We can only hope that every Christian takes his or her baptism that seriously. 

 3. Preparation for VIPs:  

When the president or prime minister of a country is  scheduled to make a public appearance, his staff prepares weeks and even months in advance to make certain that the proper protocol will be observed and the leader’ security will be assured. Similarly, detailed preparations precede the appearance of religious leaders like the Pope. Programs are scheduled, choral presentations are practiced, gifts are bought and special persons are chosen to present them in the most gracious manner possible, so that the honored one is duly recognized and appreciated. Careful planning also accompanies the appearances of other political figures, celebrity entertainers and rock singers. When rock stars like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen made a tour, elaborate preparations were made for their coming. If they came to the Silver dome in Pontiac, Michigan, for example, their entourage would ahead of time to get things ready for their concert. Stages would be set; lighting would be adjusted; every care would be taken so that the needs and whims of each guest would be fully accommodated. In fact, one wonders if today’s gospel about John the Baptist proclaiming the coming of Jesus applies more to modern rock stars than it does to the true Messiah. Only when we put the same care and commitment into our spiritual Christmas preparations that rock stars put into their musical performances, will “all mankind begin to see the salvation of God.”
 
4. Bat baptism: 

Three pastors got together for coffee one morning. Much to their surprise they discovered that all their churches had problems with bats infesting their belfries. The bats were making a terrible mess. "I got so mad," said one pastor, "I took a shotgun and fired at them. It made holes in the ceiling, but did nothing to the bats."  "I tried trapping them alive," said the second. "Then I drove 50 miles before releasing them, but they beat me back to the church."  "I haven't had any more problems," said the third.  "What did you do?" asked the others, amazed.  "I simply baptized and confirmed them," he replied. "I haven't seen them since."  If that story doesn't make you laugh, it will make you cry. It is such a common occurrence. People come to the church desiring Christian baptism and church membership. We welcome them into our fellowship, and then for six weeks or so after we welcome them into our fellowship, we don't hear anything of them. What does it mean? Or parents stand at the altar to present a child to God. They make promises to bring up that child in the household of faith, and then they disappear. We rarely see them again. What did those promises mean? On this second Sunday of the New Church Year our lesson from the Gospels focuses our attention on the place of baptism in our lives. Jesus came to be baptized by John.

5. We need to prepare the way for the Messiah in our hearts:
 
We have to fill in the “valleys” of our souls which have resulted from our  shallow prayer life and a minimalist way of living our faith.  We have to straighten out whatever crooked paths we’ve been walking, like involvement in some secret or habitual sins or in a sinful relationship.  If we have been involved in some dishonest practices at work or at home, we are called to straighten them out and make restitution.  If we have been harboring grudges or hatred, or failing to be reconciled with others, now is the time to clear away all the debris.  If we have been pushing God off to the side of our road, if we have been saying to Him that we don’t really have the time for Him, now is the time for us to get our priorities straight.  As individuals, we might have to overcome deep-seated resentment, persistent fault-finding, unwillingness to forgive, dishonesty in our dealings with others, or a bullying attitude.  And we all have to level the “mountains” of our pride and egocentrism.  As a society we might have to dismantle unfair housing policies, employment disparity, economic injustice, or racial and ethnic biases.

6. We need to repent and seek forgiveness from God and fellow-human beings

John's message calls us to confront and confess our sins. We have to turn away from them in sincere repentance and receive God's forgiveness.  There are basically two reasons why people who have recognized their sins fail to receive forgiveness for them.  The first is that they fail to repent.  But the second is that they fail to forgive.  Jesus is very explicit about this in Matthew 6:14 and 15. He says, "For if you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."  Is there someone I need to forgive today?  We must not let what others have done destroy our lives.  We can't be forgiven unless we forgive.  We must release our bitterness if we are to be able to allow God to do His healing work in our lives.

7. "Oh, well, soap only works when it is applied."  

A soap manufacturer and a pastor were walking together down a street in a large city.  The soap manufacturer casually said, "The gospel you preach hasn't done much good, has it?  Just observe. There is still a lot of wickedness in the world, and a lot of wicked people, too!"  The pastor made no reply until they passed a dirty little child making mud pies in the gutter.  Seizing the opportunity, the pastor said, "I see that soap hasn't done much good in the world either; for there is much dirt still here, and many dirty people are still around."  The soap man said, "Oh, well, soap only works when it is applied."  And the pastor said, "Exactly!  So it is with the gospel."
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8. Shake It Off and Step Up! 

A parable is told of a farmer who owned an old mule. The mule fell into the farmer's well. The farmer heard the mule braying and went to the site. After assessing the situation the farmer sympathized with the mule but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead he called his neighbors and asked them to bring their shovels and bury the poor mule and put him out of his misery.

The mule seemed hysterical. When the dirt struck his back he shook it off. As the farmer and his friends continued to shovel a thought struck the farmer. After each shovel of dirt was thrown onto the mule he said, "Shake it off and step up." The mule did what he asked, after every shovel of dirt. After a time the old mule stepped triumphantly out of the well. What seemed to bury him actually became his road to freedom.

There is an alternative to every impossible situation. The way is not always visible to us. But our task is not to work miracles, that is up to God. Our responsibility is to prepare the way, committing every ounce of energy we have to the possibility of the transforming power of God, remembering that a single act of kindness can bring hope to generations yet to come.

Keith Wagner, Possibilities Unlimited
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9. There Is Work to Do!

 What a message for us at Advent! "Let every heart/Prepare him room" we sing. Perhaps we would do well to say let every heart get out the bulldozers and backhoes, the rock crushers and road graders:

There are mountains that need to come down - mountains of racism, sexism, ageism, and any other "-ism" that blocks our way to healthy relationships with one another and with our Lord.

There are valleys to be filled - valleys of depression, despair, loneliness, grief, pain, any of which can keep us from the rich relationship the Savior offers and that keep us from enjoying the fellowship of the faith.

There are crooked places to be made straight - yes, there is perversity, even among those we might never imagine; fine exteriors mask rotten interiors of abuse, neglect, immorality, even violence.

There are rough places to be made smooth - rough places that have come because of oppression and injustice.  

There is work to do! Bring on the heavy equipment!
 
David E. Leininger, One Shock after Another
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10. The Hinge of History

It sometimes seems that God shows his sense of humor with history. Halford Luccock once noted that Nero was sure that the most important happenings in Rome were the words he said, the laws he enacted, and the things he did. As a matter of fact, the biggest events in Rome at the time were some prayer meetings which were being held secretly in the catacombs. The Medici, he observes, must have seemed the key figures in Renaissance Europe, with their palaces, art galleries, and political power. Yet they are overshadowed by "a little boy playing about on the docks of Genoa," who would eventually open the seaway to the Americans - Christopher Columbus.

So it was in John the Baptizer's time. One can easily imagine the pomp and circumstance with which Herod trampled about as tetrarch of Galilee. Wherever he went, people scraped and bowed. They waited for a disdaining nod and dreamed of some act of preferment from his hand. Herod was, indeed, a big man in Galilee in the first century. Today, all his pomp is simply pompous, and all his circumstance only circumstantial. But John the Baptizer! -- a great human being.


J. Ellsworth Kalas, 'The Hinge of History,' Sermons on the Gospel Readings, Cycle C, CSS Publishing Company
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 11. A Higher Standard of Living

Max Lucado tells the story of a man who had been a closet slob most of his life. He just couldn't comprehend the logic of neatness. Why make up a bed if you're going to sleep in it again tonight? Why put the lid on the toothpaste tube if you're going to take it off again in the morning? He admitted to being compulsive about being messy.

 Then he got married. His wife was patient. She said she didn't mind his habits . . . if he didn't mind sleeping on the couch. Since he did mind, he began to change. He said he enrolled in a 12-step program for slobs. A physical therapist helped him rediscover the muscles used for hanging up shirts and placing toilet paper on the holder. His nose was reintroduced to the smell of Pine Sol. By the time his in-laws arrived for a visit, he was a new man. 

But then came that moment of truth. His wife went out of town for a week. At first he reverted to the old man. He figured he could be a slob for six days and clean up on the seventh. But something strange happened. He could no longer relax with dirty dishes in the sink or towels flung around the bathroom or clothes on the floor or sheets piled up like a mountain on the bed.

What happened? Simple. He had been exposed to a higher standard of living.

That's what confession and repentance do for us. That's what Jesus does for us.

Billy D. Strayhorn, Thunder in the Desert
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12. Turn on the Lights!

During the recent recession, one commentator on television began his newscast by saying, "Due to the current financial crisis, the light at the end of the tunnel will be turned off." The world turns off lights. Christians turn them on - look around you, in your neighborhoods, in this season. Light (especially light at the end of a tunnel) represents hope. Something that pierces the darkness.

William R. Boyer, A God Full of Surprises
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13. We Need a Bath!

Last week we embarked on the journey of Advent. We lit the first candle, and we read biblical passages that propelled us into the future to consider the end of time-the apocalypse. Today, our reading sends us in the opposite direction. On the second Sunday of Advent, we are pulled into the distant past to hear the words of the ancient prophet, Malachi. Malachi tells of a figure who is coming "to prepare the way for the Lord." He speaks of a messenger who will purify people's hearts. "God is sending an emissary," writes Malachi, "who comes intending to cleanse your souls."

It all seems a bit presumptuous, doesn't it? In the midst of our pre-Christmas hustle and bustle, the church trots out some primitive prophet who promises us an Advent scrub-down. Is that really what we need right now? You would think that the lectionary could come up with a few encouraging words at this time-assuring us that we will make it through another Christmas, instead of cheekily suggesting that before God arrives, we need a bath.

Scott Black Johnston, Fire and Soap
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14. Recognizing our Need to Repent 

One critic said he had gone to many churches and heard the preacher say,

"Don't try to impress God with your works" or "Don't attempt to please God with your merits" or "Don't try to keep the rules and regulations and thus win your way." He looked around at nearly slumbering collections of utterly casual Christians and wondered, "Who's trying?" 

Martin Marty
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15. Our Basic Problem

Billy Graham, who has often played the 20th century role of John the Baptizer, had these comments about the disease running rampant in our world: "We're suffering from only one disease in the world. Our basic problem is not a race problem. Our basic problem is not a poverty problem. Our basic problem is not a war problem. Our basic problem is a heart problem. We need to get the heart changed, the heart transformed."

Michael J. Anton