Article for the December Parish Newsletter
“Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” – John 1:29
Imagine what it must have been like in the days of John the Baptist. It would have looked like a good old-fashioned revival I think. Quite possibly the religious fervor was reignited amongst many believers. Or maybe not. It does say that men and women were coming from all over to hear this preacher. They came confessing their sins, it says, and being baptized in the Jordan River. Yet, people were still living their lives. They had to get up, make breakfast, go to work, make dinner, go to bed, and start it all over. This new preacher had come, and people were wondering if maybe he was another in a long line of Messiahs who never met their potential. These “chosen ones” who were each supposed to be the one that would restore the kingdom of Israel, only to fail.
Now we have this John, the one we are later told to be this precursor, an opening act, sent to prepare the way of the Lord. To get everyone warmed up. He walks amongst those people. Speaking. Teaching. Laughing (maybe not). Then he stops, looks ahead a little way up the road, spreads out his arms to hold back his people and shouts - “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” He sees this One that he has been preparing the people for and now he is here. John can’t help but make it known. John’s work is over. Time for a vacation, Jesus is here.
As we enter Advent, this is a time we are to hear that voice again. Taking a vacation from what we think we must do in order to hear that voice even more earnestly. Tuning our ears to hear that name, Jesus, again. To hear the story, not as a story, but a remedy for life and death. A remedy for all the junk the world tells us Christmas is supposed to be about. To be pointed to this Christ child who came for you. Whose first thoughts in the manger were of you and your redemption. Of proclaiming to you that good news. Of exclaiming to you that he forgives you all your sin. That he will take it away, wrapped in those chubby little baby fingers, and never give it back. Allowing our religious observance, our spirituality, to be covered not in how well we think we can keep Christmas or spread holiday cheer, but in that One, that Lamb who comes to us, for the sole reason that he loves sinners and needs to forgive them.
So this year, don’t change your traditions and don’t add to your Christmas list. Take the time to do what you do every year, listen. We listen to holiday music. We listen to the laughter and stories of family and friends. Now, listen to the words of the story. Hear the God of all creation as he breaks into history for you. He could have stayed on his throne in heaven and not cared about you at all. But in his mercy, he decided he was tired of waiting for us to make the most of him, so he came directly to us to gather us to himself.
Happy Advent and Merry Christmas.