December 19, 2012

Advent Wk. 3 - Preparing for the (un)King


3rd Week of Advent | Luke 3:7-18

"I don't want the news.??I cannot use it.??I don't want the news.??I won't live by it."????? from "Waiting Room" by??Fugazi??on??13 songs

A brood of vipers is unaware of their potential. A nest of recently hatched, venomous snakes is something no one would want to come upon unexpected. This is what John the Baptizer compares his company to in this last Sunday's gospel reading for Advent. Yet, in the same breath he calls them cowards, trying to flee coming judgment. Out of fear, they were attempting to safety.??It wasn't just that they had become unproductive (i.e. the tree analogy). The reality, as John implies, is that God's people had become???unaware to themselves???a community of fear that was now destructive.

Last Friday was a reminder of just how deceptive "safe" is. In the "safe" community of Newtown, CT something toxic, venomous struck. It destroyed the??self-deception???the??illusion???of safety amidst what is known, what is familiar. And at a terrible cost that a father, such as I, with young children cannot fathom or comprehend.

Over a decade ago, on a very early fall morning, I was getting ready to head to the airport. The phone rang. My wife's aunt was on the other end. "Turn on the T.V."??I sat on our couch. My arm wrapped around my wife. My hand against her stomach stretched tight by the baby we would soon bring into this world. And I watched a plane crash into the second tower.

I remember saying to myself, "My faith has no response to such violence in the world."

This realization sent me on a spiritual quest. I wanted to understand and learn to act on a faith that responded to such violence. I was embraced by Mennonite leaders on that journey. Through their mentorship, I learned that I was wrong about my assumption that September morning. The Christian faith does have a response to such violence: Jesus.

The (un)King Jesus steps into this story that John the baptizer is laying out and adds an unexpected twist. Any other king would issue such a proclamation and know that his authority rested on his ability to exact such judgment. Stand by his word. But Jesus does what no one anticipated. He steps into the blaze, he places himself under the axe.

He wins by dying.

What does it look like for us to follow such an (un)King in times like these???

In Jesus' day and age there were a plethora of political, religious parties who vied for enough influence to either legislate or enact by force a different way???a different kind of community. But Jesus, rather than legislate or use force,??embodied??another way. And it was a way that no one would have expected.

Our choice is whether or not we will do the same. Will we place all our trust in those who seek to legislate or use force to enact their way? Or will we follow the (un)King?

The (un)King calls us to step??towards a world that is unsafe. Willingly, with love and without violence.??To love when others hate. Serve when the world wants you to lead. Bless those that others ignore. Carry the burden that belongs to another... What would it look like???

Let's be honest, legislation alone???no matter your flavor???will not change the world. God can't be reinstated in schools. He never left. People will still commit atrocities even if guns are made difficult to obtain???though it's a good start. Sadly, terribly, the innocent have always suffered in this broken world.??The question is how we respond. Tangibly. Daily. In every day life, demonstrating that there is another way than such insanity. It was demonstrated in Jesus.

This brings to mind this exchange regarding Aslan between Lucy and Mr. Beaver in The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe:

"Then he isn't safe?" asked Lucy.??
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver. "Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."

Our call is not to illusions of safety but goodness.

What would it look like?

Note: For those in need of something to jog their imagination, may I recommend this is as a place to begin.

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