The guys sent from Jerusalem wanted to know who John was. And when he didn’t give them the answers they were looking for or tell them what they expected to hear they changed their tactics and asked, “…why do you baptize?”
Is there anyone today who’s taken John’s place? Who are the ones thundering in the desert today? Who’s doing today what the prophet Isaiah preached? Who’s preaching repentance? Who’s preparing us for the coming of the Messiah? If someone is, are we listening to them or are we too busy questioning their competence or their authority to hear the Message?
Do we, today, still question those people who tell the story of Jesus? Do we ask to see some form of certification that says they’re qualified or authorized do what they’re doing? And if we’re satisfied they’re properly qualified do we then ask them, “Why are you doing this thing?”
With all the questions we ask do we miss hearing the story? Are we missing the Good News they’re preaching? Is the noise of the world drowning out the Message they preach?
I’m asking these questions because all I’m hearing are politicians who have nothing good to say about their opponents or the incumbent. All I’m hearing is how bad things are and it’s all one person’s fault. And they’re the only ones who have all the answers. But I don’t believe any of them can be described as the “thunder in the desert.” Not once have I heard anyone talk about the things John spoke of, repentance and turning back to God.
The only places I’ve found anyone talking about social justice issues is in Sojourners magazine or The Christian Century or the Friends magazine published by the Quakers. So, my question is, “Who is the “Voice” for God’s people today?”
Who are we listening to? Who commands our attention? Who is promoting change in our society today?
Friends, the Message John was preaching was important then and is important for us to hear today. If the only voice we hear is John’s speaking to us from the Bible then maybe it would be good for us to listen. If the only thunder we hear is John’s voice asking us to repent, to turn back to the One who cares for us, then maybe it’s good that we hear the Message repeated again and again.
Maybe instead of questioning who John is we should listen for God’s message from those whom God has called. They might not be John the Baptizer, they probably don’t look like him either, but the Message is the same. Turn back to God; prepare the way for the Lord.
So, what are we to do? I think Paul has some good advice for us, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.”
John preached a message of repentance. Paul reminded his readers to always be joyful, pray constantly, and to give thanks no matter what happens in our lives.
It doesn’t matter who John was or who is proclaiming the word from the pulpit. What matters is that we listen to the Message and take it to heart. What matters is sharing the Message with those folks God brings to us everyday. What matters is not waiting for someone else to do something but to take care of those God brings to us. We all know who they are.
Whose voice are you listening to? In this Advent season let’s all take time to sit and listen for God’s voice. Let’s be God’s voice for those around us. Let’s be the hands and feet of God for those who are searching for something good in this world, and the next.
Friends, remember God loves you. Listen for his voice and share his love with everyone you meet. Thanks be to God for his grace-filled joy. Amen.