You Brood of Vipers

Image by RitaE from Pixabay

Third Sunday of Advent

Zephaniah 3:14-20
Philippians 4:4-7
Luke 3:7-18

When we all get together on Christmas day, I’m sure we will want to enjoy the feel-good message of the Baptizer from today’s reading. “Brood of snakes! What do you think you’re doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to deflect God’s judgment?” MSG Luke 3:7-8

You may be wondering why this is included in the Advent readings. It is easy to see Christmas as the Hallmark, love, and kisses season, but that dilutes the meaning of God’s personal visit to our home planet.

Jesus delivered the same message that John did. Repent! God came as a human to tell us in person, face-to-face, that we need to step out of darkness into the light. Our problem is, we are familiar with the darkness.

10 Then the crowds would ask him, “Then what shall we do?” 11 And his answer was, “The man who has two shirts must share with the man who has none, and the man who has food must do the same.” Phillips

Have you ever thought of buying two of all your Christmas gifts and giving the second ones to the Salvation Army? Or, to a church food bank? Along with more food?

12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13 He told them, “Collect no more than you are required to.” 14 Then some soldiers also asked him, “And as for us—what should we do?” He told them, “Take money from no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your pay.” NET

It is not the job that is the issue, at least for most of us (murders take notice). How do we do the job is the issue. Is Jesus in the room? Do I treat everyone as though he/she is Jesus? Do I treat everyone as Jesus would?

You may have seen some of the You-tubers who buy two cups of coffee and sit beside a homeless person to share a cupa and conversation. Or those who spot a homeless person in need of a new winter coat and order one from Amazon to be delivered directly to the person sitting at 254 West 27th Street.

Why do we only think of giving a present to a needy person (and then only a child) at Christmas? Have—a fruit basket—chocolate covered strawberries—cheese box—etc.—shipped to someone who could use a special treat. If they are really in need, slip a crisp Franklin in an envelope and have the USPS deliver it; maybe put the church as the return address. Maybe do it in August or September to help start school.

Part of living in the dark is that we don’t see the people all around us who often just need a friendly smile. Treating people like friends does have some risk; they might actually become friends.

This Christmas, let’s try to repent.

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

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