Monday, December 8, 2008

changing landscapes

The following is an advent devotional written by a professor friend of mine at Northwestern College, Jackie Smallbones. I am intrigued with her ideas on repentance and changing landscapes:

"It is our job, as followers of Jesus Christ, to prepare the way for Jesus so that the world may know and believe. But, who am I, I often wonder, to prepare the way for Jesus, the King of all creation? There are so many better prepared, better known and better placed people to do the job. Rather like in John the Baptizer’s day. Many others were more qualified than John, as Luke points out in this text. He lists them by name – all the political and religious leaders of Jewish society. These were the important people. Any one of them would seem a likely candidate to introduce the long-awaited Messiah-King to the nation and the world. Instead, Luke ignores them all and introduces John, an unknown nobody, the son of Zechariah, another nobody, a stark contrast to the named hot shots.

"I can’t use the excuse of being unqualified or inexperienced. I look to the competent leaders around me to do the work. God uses unlikely people to prepare the way for the Savior of the world. John, a nobody, stepped up to the plate, preached a demanding message in the region around the Jordan River. And the people flocked to him. They accepted his message of repentance and submitted to his baptism, despite its costly demands. John called for a repentance that would radically change the ‘landscape’ of their lives – paths straightened, valleys filled in, mountains demolished, rough ways made smooth. This is not a message designed to make us feel good about ourselves and our way of life. It demands repentance that will radically change the way we think, the way we live, the way we relate to those around us. We may find ourselves changing our views, perhaps even our politics; accepting people regardless of their status (legal or illegal); engaging in activities we once thought beyond our abilities or interests. Our ‘landscape’ will change, becoming new and unfamiliar to us.

"John, not one of the political or religious hot shots was called to proclaim this demanding preparation for God’s Messiah. You and I, ordinary people, untrained preachers, are called this advent season, to examine our lives and then begin preparation for Messiah by taking this sacrificial road of repentance that changes the place where we live."

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