Tom & I have been reading the daily scriptures from the Book of Common Prayer and I must confess that I have been feeling a little depressed as I have read about the judgment of God in Amos & Haggai so the scriptures that we are focusing on in this Johannine synchroblog have been quite encouraging. However as read this morning about John who “came as a witness to the light” I started to think about what this really meant.
John’s message after all was a message that focused on sin and the need for repentance just as the daily Advent scriptures I have been reading do. John 1: 23 reads “I am a voice calling in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.” The season of Advent is not just a time to look forward to the love, joy, peace and hope of God’s shalom kingdom, it is also a time to examine our hearts and to listen to the voice of those who still today cry out in the wilderness asking us to repent of our self centred lives. This is not just so that we can get a warm fuzzy feeling of forgiveness but so that we can actually change our behaviour to focus more on the coming of Christ and the inbreaking of God’s kingdom of shalom and wholeness.
Like me you probably want to skip over the hard parts of the Advent message and focus only on the love and the joy. But to enter fully into the love and the joy of Christ’s coming we must also enter fully into the pain and suffering of our world, recognize where our actions have contributed, repent and make some changes.
It is not always easy to recognize how our actions impact the poverty of children in Africa, or the horrors faced by those whose countries are at war, but they can. Who would have thought that buying a diamond could be financing a war in Africa but it might. Buying fair traded coffee and tea (and other food items if they are available in your area) may all help to provide a fair wage for people at the margins. Checking into where our money is invested and working with socially responsible investment groups is another challenge but one that we really need to take seriously if we truly want to be witnesses as John was to the One who will one day bring wholeness, abundance and shalom to all our suffering neighbours near and far.
I really identified with the thoughts of my fellow blogger on circular thoughts – the kingdom must be pursued. We must chase after it. We must run hard and fast. We are called to be shalom makers and that means to run hard and fast, being willing to be voices of witness just like John was – going against the status quo, speaking out where no one else is, raising a voice for those who are oppressed and marginalized. And by our efforts we too may forge a highway on which the king of kings can come into our world.
My fellow bloggers