Filled with expectation

Luke 3:7-18

Today we continue with the story of John baptizing people and calling for repentance. A fulfillment of the prophecy from last week, making the valleys filled, the mountains low, rough plain, and the crooked straight. John calls the people out on why they came to see him. This isn't a side show with free tickets, this is the gospel, good news.

So this may have gone something like this:  John to the crowds, "Why'd you come out here, this isn't the early morning show?" Do you think you can just call yourselves Christians and not be expected to do anything?"

Crowd:  "What must we do?"

John:  "If you have more clothes in your closet than you can wear, share them with someone who has just a few."

Tax Collectors:  "What must we do?"

John:  "Don't charge extra and skim off the top, just charge the fee.

Or big business: you make billions in profits, treating your employees by giving a living wage and purchasing things at a fair price should be enough.

Getting the picture? In John's world at his time his message is dangerous. People were killed or put in prison, and we know John was killed later. In this world where we have come to expect bad news everyday, we can turn our hearts and minds to that or we can live this simple good news that John brings of share, be honest, be fair, and be content into our own lives and the lives of others.

Bishop Steven Charleston wrote a short parable he shared online this week about a town that was fearful of terrorist and gun violence and wanted to protect themselves from this bad thing that was happening. They built a wall, but people were jumping over the wall so they eventually put a top and sealed themselves off from the world. Then a small child asks if they can go out to play. Do we seal ourselves off? Not expecting God to somehow break through? Or worse thinking God needs to be defended in some way? After all John is not saying God will do terrible things, but he is saying in the midst of that live this way.

Zepheniah dips his hand into this message too. Speaking of Israel's restoration from captivity he says that God will take care of the foes, your woes are over, wait, believe that you will be beautiful, looked up to by others because Israel will shine. In God's time, in God's taking, in God's hand.

Having faith is difficult, living fully into good news when all that seems to be present is bad news is hard. It is so much easier to want to feel safe, protected, out of touch with our neighbor and ourselves. Be not afraid is part of this season. Be not afraid to share with others. Be not afraid to be honest and not cheat someone out of blessing, and yourself out of it too. Be not afraid to be fair, be content with what is. Be not afraid because we have good news for all people. Because Christ has come we can show the world the depths of God's love if we dare.