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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Meditation on This Week's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, December 13, 2009:

First Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-20

Psalm: Isaiah 12:2-6

Second Reading: Philippians 4:4-7

Gospel: Luke 3:7-18

I find myself growing weary of John the Baptist. I'm tired of this Advent cycle. Why is John the Baptist always here? Can't we have some angels appearing to Mary or Joseph? Can't we have a different part of the story?

I'm also tired of the prophets of this year's lectionary. I yearn for some old-fashioned Isaiah.

I also wonder why we don't have many great Advent hymns. I only really like "Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel." O.K., O.K., the candlelighting/watch for Messiah song set to Yiddish sounding music is pretty cool too. But why aren't there more?

Clearly, I'm in a crabby mood. I'm tired of having John the Baptist call me a viper. I know, I know, I have all these faults. Don't threaten me with that ax. I try so hard to bear good fruit, but I'm afraid it isn't enough. I'm surrounded by people who are clearly in a more crabby mood than I am, and I'm trying to be sympathetic, but it's hard. This attempt of mine to transform myself into a compassionate person is taking longer than I thought it would. I see people at work having meltdowns, and my response is to hide under my desk (metaphorically, although there are days that the thought of literally curling up under my desk is almost irresistible). I don't go to them to say, "What can I do to help you through this painful time?"

Perhaps I'm ready for that ax after all.

Or maybe, I need to pay attention to John the Baptist with a bit more focus. Advent reminds me that I'm not my final, improved version of myself. Advent reminds me that I still have work to do. And I need to hear that message. I'm lazy and inclined to coast, and it's good to know that God has a vision for me that is vaster than any I could dream myself.

I am ready for those angels who tell me not to be afraid. I need that message of fearlessness in my Advent darkness. I am ready for the Christmas miracle of a God who wants to be with humanity so much that God comes to us as the most vulnerable creature: a baby born to parents low on the social ladder of a society that is far from the corridors of power.

Oh come, Emmanuel. Ransom me!

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