My friend Greg Cole has the right take on John the Baptist, I think. This is a timely reminder that Advent is not really meant to be a sentimental time for Hallmark Christianity, but is rather a radical call to prepare for Jesus Christ by striving toward God’s reign.
During Advent, John the Baptist serves as our agent provocateur, the one who comes to stir things up, to shake us out of our complacency, and to urge us to search our hearts. John the Baptist asks us whether we really want to accept what Christ offers, whether we really want to take on what Christ requires. To accept Christ means that we live by the commandment to love God and our neighbors. It means that we filter everything that we do through that double commandment. It means embracing Jesus’ call to love our enemies, to seek the transformation of evil not through violence and retaliation but through love and compassion. It means living in a qualitatively different way, convinced that the road to peace and fulfillment in this life is none other than the way of Christ.
If you want something deeper this year, something that goes beyond the parties and the presents, consider what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus, someone completely committed to embodying his teachings, someone determined to live according to our baptismal covenant that calls us to strive for justice and peace and to respect the dignity of every human being. Christian faith – Advent faith – is faith lived out in the world around us. It is not reserved for quiet Sunday mornings or for Christmas Eve worship. It pervades every part of our lives. It informs the shopping decisions that we make, the way that we treat other people, even the choices that we make about our time and our money. Why? Because we have looked ahead toward God’s future and we cannot sit satisfied with the present when we can contribute to the coming reign of God.
Go read the whole thing, and glue your RSS readers to Greg’s blog. Image from St. John’s, Canberra.