Our Sister Phoebe, a Deacon

Theological musings inspired by the Spirit and totally Ellen…

>Are You the One?

>On the third Sunday of Advent, traditionally called “Rose Sunday”, or “Refreshment Sunday”, “Gaudate Sunday”, the bright spot in a contemplative season, we hear of John the Baptist sending a disciple to ask Jesus, “Are you the one?” While in prison, John wants to know if Jesus is the one coming, or if he should wait for another. Perhaps his uncertainty stems from his own firery words: “. . . he will thoroughly sweep his threshing floor. He will gather his grain into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with inextinguishable fire.”
Once again we have a message quite different than what we expect from a season of joy and love.
And we have Jesus a chapter earlier stating that he did not come to cast peace on Earth but came with a sword. He would divide a family, husband from wife, mother from son. Yet in response to John’s query Jesus lists works of healing and restoration that he has performed. Is it any wonder that John is curious? There’s a bit of inconsistency in his prophecy about Jesus and Jesus’ works.
What about we Christians today?
Since childhood, we have been taught that Jesus is love, and yet, in the Gospels we see a very different messiah than the blue-eyed, serene, Christ of illustrations that hung in some of our houses.
The Jesus that gives John the Baptist pause is a man whose teaching wakes up disciples, yet he shows a very gentle and loving dimension in his works of healing and evangelism.
Was John, in his prison, wondering if he got it right?
He got it right, this extraordinary prophet and kinsman of Jesus of Nazareth. John is the bridge between the old order – the law and the prophets – and the new order – the Kingdom of Heaven where all have a place – that Jesus brings. He is the transitional prophet, as it were; someone whose presence marks the end of exile, separation and alienation, and at the same time bears witness to the blossoming of the long-anticipated, long-awaited fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah and the other prophets. John begins the revolution that is full blown with Jesus.
The season of Advent is like John – it is a time when we straddle the old and the new, we anticipate and wait for the light to come out of the clouds and illuminate our hearts and minds in the guise of Christ the Redeemer and Savior. And don’t we have moments of uncertainty ourselves, when we read these contradictory stories of Jesus – the Jesus bringing a sword and the Jesus offering love?
I like to think, and it is this deacon’s opinion, that the separation and division Jesus speaks of and the violent actions John preaches about will eventually lead to restoration and healing. We are compelled to sit up and listen harder, take a closer look about us. Maybe we have to go through that unquenchable fire in order to see that the blind are given sight and the lame will walk – see that all are welcome in the Kingdom of Heaven, and that is the true joy and good news of the season.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord,


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