By Michael Smith
A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 7:28-35
28 “I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29(And all the people who heard this, including the tax-collectors, acknowledged the justice of God, because they had been baptized with John’s baptism. 30But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves.)
31 “To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32They are like children sitting in the market-place and calling to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not weep.’
33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon;’ 34the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!’ 35Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
John the Baptist is one of the quintessential biblical characters of the Advent season. He is likened to the prophet Isaiah, as “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord” (Luke 3:4). When he was born, his father prophesied about him: “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 2:76-77). John the Baptist expected that the acceptance of his proclamation of repentance would result in changed lives, toward the production of appropriate fruits (Luke 3:8). In the collect for today, we pray for God to “give us grace to heed the prophets’ warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ” (BCP, p. 211).
How are we doing in preparing the way of the Lord in our own lives? Do we bear fruits worthy of repentance? Or are we full of excuses like the Pharisees and lawyers who find fault both with those who abstain and those who imbibe? Have we accepted or rejected God’s purposes and plans for our lives? What needs to change? We still have time, but the time is now.
Michael G. Smith served as bishop of North Dakota for fifteen years and is currently the Assistant Bishop of Dallas. He works with the Navajoland Iona Collaborative and is a Benedictine Oblate and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain and the Rt. Rev. Carlos López-Lozano
Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Rt. Rev. Dorsey W. M. McConnell