Lk. 3:7-18

Often in a time of crisis there is a turning away and a turning toward God. There is a discerning of what counts. We are open to words of hope, to the love of God, and to the power of His spirit.

It was one of those serendipitous happenings. I had been reading the commentaries on Luke’s Gospel and decided to get up and stretch my legs. I walked out into the hall and there on the landing of the stairs was Eva. I’ve known her for twenty years. We first met in a Bible study course and remained friends.

“How’s it going?” I asked. “Okay,” she replied. “Are you okay? You look kind of ragged.” “I’m not having a good day,” she answered. “Not good at all.” I walked down to her and said,” I’m sorry. What’s the matter.” “My brother is dying,” she replied. I put my arms around her and gathered her in. “I am terribly, terribly sorry,” I said.

She cried. After a while I asked if she wanted a prayer. She nodded and we prayed for the Holy Spirit to give her strength and endurance. We gave thanks for the love she had for her brother and for the love that God has shown us. We thanked God for sharing our pain and sorrow. We asked Him to be with her brother and to comfort her.

Eva said thanks and collected her things. I went back up to my room, reread today’s Gospel passage, and stared out the window.

It seemed to me that Israel’s experience reflected that of Eva’s and yours and mine (the human condition). Israel had literally been dragged up and down the steppes of Palestine, Assyria, and Babylonia. Time and again, rulers lifted the people’s expectations, and time and again their hopes were dashed. Occasionally, there were pauses when the great prophets spoke, or when writers such as the author of the Book of Daniel saw a ladder reaching to heaven. Oppressed under the Romans, the people lived in a state of constant crisis. They were both hopeful and fearful. It was at this time that onto the stage of history, lurched John the Baptist

John’s message to Israel, to Eva, and to us is to turn toward God. Face the crises in our lives, carry on in making hard choices, walk in hope, live in the power of the Spirit, and look to Bethlehem and the salvific presence of God in a babe lying in a manger.

It was dark when I turned from my window. I put away my commentaries. My eyes fell on the collect for the day.

“Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us. . . .. Amen.”