Convicted by John the Baptist's message, "Get ready!" the people ask, "What then should we do?" As we wait, how will we get ready? Yes, the packages have to get wrapped. Yet John invites us to "bear fruits worthy of repentance." Perhaps we are being called to notice what we have received and choose what we will share with others. How will we choose to respond to the abundance we have received?
The people who came out to hear John the Baptist would have recognized the Isaiah passage he was proclaiming. Did these people notice that something was not quite right in their lives? Apparently so, why else would they have come out to hear this bizarre-looking preacher? And so we, in the 21st Century, look for what we need to do to "prepare the way of the Lord." What is cluttering up the path? Will there be room in our inn for the Christ child to come and be born in us?
While the world frantically shops, hoping to find the joy which is announced in the piped-in-music to show up in purchases, we are being called to STOP. No, not to zone out, but to stand alert for signs. The Psalm for today calls out: "to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul." And so we hold in tension the delicious preparations of celebrating Christmas with seeking moments of silence in which to be vigilant – to lift up our souls.
My kingdom is not of this world. My kingdom is not won in a battle. Clearly, the kingdom Jesus offers comes a very different way than we expected. Jesus refuses violence. Instead, he speaks the truth and waits for ordinary people to hear his voice and choose to follow him. The ordinary gathers energy for the extra-ordinary to come.