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The Second Sunday of Advent

Luke 3.1-6

Gazing on the Gospels year C

Gaze on a lone hiker, setting out on a long distance walk in the Lake District, or Scottish highlands, perhaps. Imagine it’s you, dressed in the latest Gore-Tex® to keep out the wind and rain, waterproof trousers already on, sturdy climbing boots laced on your feet, a heavy haversack on your back and a pole tightly gripped in your hand. You’ll need a compass and a map, but still the way forward isn’t sure, for there have been landslips that bar the route and you’re forced to double back, taking much longer than planned. Each hill promises the summit, but once you get there and catch your breath, you find another hill beyond. Now the fog is rolling down, hiding the path. Thirsty, dirty and tired, you’ve got miles to cover before reaching the shelter where you planned to pitch your tent. Wouldn’t you join in Isaiah’s song, and long for the hills to be made low, and the rough ways smooth?

Consider the list of names at the beginning of this reading. It is as if Luke is reciting a roll call of all the greats of first-century Palestine. He seems determined to convince the reader that all this really happened. He is grounding this story in historical fact. These men were real, so why doubt that John and Jesus were real too?

Consider also the tremendous contrast displayed between all these powerful men who thought they were in charge of the world, and John. For look who is coming over the horizon – far from palace, fort or parliament, not even attached to church or temple. God chooses to act for him a simple man named John, who knows that the silence of the wilderness is the place to hear the Word of God. However sincere leaders are, whatever their policies or strategies, however many white or green papers and statutes politicians enact, despite all this well-meaning activity, they never seem able to transform society. To do that, we must start silently, within ourselves.

Contemplate in silence the wildest place you have ever been. Sit in that place – is it cold, or hot, touching the sky or a deep, deep cave? How do you feel there? Silence and simplicity can often feel threatening, as deep truths emerge unbidden. What does God want to tell you – about yourself, the people you live with, the wider world you move in? What crooked corners of your heart does God want to make straight?

As you desire to imitate him

God of Judgement, may I be ready
To follow John into the wilderness,
For all my rough ways to be made smooth,
So that I can serve in your world
And be part of the solution,
Not the problem.

Taken from Gazing on the Gospels Year C by Judith Dimond

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