Emmitsburg Council of Churches

 

The Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew 3:1-12

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 3:2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." 3:3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'" 3:4 Now John wore clothing of camel's hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 3:5 Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 3:6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 3:7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 3:8 Bear fruit worthy of repentance. 3:9 Do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 3:10 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 3:11 "I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 3:12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

This is the Gospel of the Lord! Praise To You O Christ!!


Desert Preparation -- Advent II

L. Let's see now (looking down at the crowd below) . . . Oh boy, there sure are some cute guys following John the Baptist down there . . . I came out here and Had no idea what I might find . . . .

What Are YOU Doing Here??!

P. You're Asking ME WHAT I'M DOING Out HERE?!? , , , I SHOULD BE ASKING YOU WHAT YOU'RE DOING HERE?! Looking for something? OR SOMEBODY!!

L. Well, of ALL the NERVE! .. . . (adjusting scarf or wardrobe) , , , Using that Accusatory Tone With ME . . . I'll Have You KNOW I Come from a Family Rich in CULTURE and the ARTS and . . . I've Traveled the Mediterranean . . . I've never been denied by Princes, Rulers or whoever - -

I've Got Just as Much a Right to be in This (murming under breadth) . . . . This, . . . This WILDERNESS PLACE . . . as You DO!! . . SO, besides being here to Ridicule Me . . . What Brought you down from your Comfortable Ivory Towers?!

P. Hmm! Ivory Tower !?. . . Let me tell you Young Lady . . . I work Hard up there on the Hill along with My Fellow Sadducees, and the Pharisees . . . We do a LOT OF IMPORTANT BUSINESS Up THERE! We HOLD SERIOUS POSITIONS and Our Authority and POWER Will Not Be Threatened by simple Desert Preachers Like this John the Baptist! So The Boys figured They'd Better Send One us Out here to Find Out what this Character, John the Baptist is up to! . . . I'll have you know I gave up an All Expenses Paid Trip to Egypt for this little Stint in the Desert!

L. Sounds Like Maybe You and the Boys at the Temple Mount are just a WEE BIT Jealous of The Baptizer! Aren't You just a little Jealous of John's popularity??

P. "CONCERNED" would be a Better Word. This Wild Preacher Man of the Desert, He's got all of Jerusalem Stirred up about the Coming of some insignificant Messiah Person. What a bunch a . . . . . It's just a lot of hot air I'd say! Get Ready for a MESSIAH . . . what Malarkey!!

L. Funny, you should think it's a lot of Hot Air Darling, after all, looking around here, I'm seeing Greater Numbers of People Following after this Desert Preacher than are coming to Your Stuffy Services back in Jerusalem!!. . . . . . . (thoughtfully)

I Think the Desert Preacher JOHN is just DIVINE Darling . . . in his own Wild Way. I Kind of Like him and I am Starting to Turn my Life AROUND.

P. Well I hope there's a LOT of ROOM FOR a big U-TURN along YOUR LIFE'S ROAD!!

L. The Lord will Get You for THAT! Think what you want, All you Sadducees Understand is Sins and money! Sins and money! Sins and money! "Give an Offering at the Temple" . . . (hands to hips) "Place YOUR MONEY IN THE BAG BY THE DOOR!" -- a little sheep offering here, a fat goat over there,

a few gold coins in the plate . . . and Everyone is so happy!

L. Especially you Sadducees with your grubby little paws in the til!! At least I came out here with Pure Motives!

P. Pure MOTIVES!!?? What Would You Know About purity??

L. Oh, I know plenty about purity . . . enough to know what Your' White Washed Robes are hiding! John the Baptist is offering a Baptism of Repentance so our Hearts would be Pure for the coming of the Messiah . .. I think he's DIVINE!

P. JOHN ?? DIVINE?? Give Me A Break . . . This Man is anything but DIVINE! I mean, look at the rif-raff who've come out here to see him Preach? What about that UNCLEAN CAMEL HAIR CLOTHING HE WEARS. What's He telling them that they haven't heard already !??!

L. Actually my Dear, He's telling the people to Get Themselves ready for the Messiah He's saying that God is bringing the Holy One Of Israel into the world. He's the Voice of One Crying Out In the Wilderness, Prapare Ye the Way of the Lord . . . He's Telling Us To Get Ready because Someone's Coming who will Take away our Sins forever! . . .

P. Take away SINS?? Nobody can take away Sins Only God can take away our Sins . . . and Your Sins ?? . . . That Would Take a . . . .

L. Watch it Buster!! (. . . .) Or You'll be Looking for a Camel Caravan to haul you out of here! I Came to Hear John because I want to rededicate my Life to God and I want to learn more about How to Be Prepared for the Messiah's Coming.!

P. Messiah's Coming! No Messiah's coming anytime soon around here. Don't you see the Roman Authorities Power!

P. Why, if just one of us was to try and rise up against them, we'd be like-TOAST! The Emperor would Quash Such a would be Savior so fast Not Even so much as a Hosannah would ring out!!

L. Well I think John is telling the Truth. His message is real. Just look at all those people down there. HE's THE PROPHET, LIKE ISAIAH PROMISED!!

P. I suppose you'll be telling Me to receive his Baptism and sit down to a meal of LOCUSTS Next!

L. This Man is different than others who came to town and preached a revival. John's Voice Rings out in these desert Canyons and it's Like the Voice of God! His Message resonates down to my very soul. I feel like I did when I was a little girl and mother and father brought me to the Temple Priest. John's Message for me is taking away my regrets, I'm getting ready to live a new life for the Messiah who is COMING!

P. Now I really am getting worried about You Liza, This Desert Preacher has you brain washed, Aren't You GETTING TOO MUCH SUN?? You DO know he is a fanatic don't you??

L. Fanatic or not, His Words are TRUTH! And I didn't ride all the way out here on a One Lump Camel to be discouraged from my quest! Don't you Sadducees believe God??

P. Of Course we Believe in God! But we have our own way of keeping a lid on things. Speaking of Camels, Did you ever read from the Scroll of Isaiah, where a blessing is pronounced that goes something like,"A multitude of camels will cover you, The young camels of Midian and Ephah; All those from Sheba will come; They will bring gold and frankincense, And will bear good news of the praises of the LORD?"

L. Are You trying to Insult me again?!

P. No, I'm Serious this time. This blessing was given with regard to the Coming of the Messiah. When the Holy One of God does come, we will worship him with gifts of Gold and Spices. He will come to save his people and set us free!

L. (Sarcastically) Boy, aren't you suddenly the Inspired One! Whoopedy-Doo-Dah-Deh! . . . Are you actually admitting that Maybe The Baptizer is having an Affect on You??

P. Yea, I mean NO!! HE's just an ignorant Desert Nomad! He doesn't know the Rules of the TEMPLE, . . . He's just out here trying to distract the PEOPLE from their Proper Duties all of this rabble shouldn't be wasting their Time out here getting sprinkled with River Water. They should be obeying the

Rules of the Pharisees and bringing their Tithes and Offerings to us Sadducees ("like Me") at the Temple!!

L. *(clearing throat) "HUMPH UMM", You might--want-to Listen up! and Look down there. John is pointing up here toward us. I think He's Pointing at YOU!!

P. What's he saying, why would he be pointing to me when he's got thousands down there to listen to him?? Can you hear what he's saying . . . I think I got a little Sand in my ears earlier on the camel ride in . . .

L. "Let's see now. Oh Dear . . .," (to congregation) "This isn't going to Turn Out Good". . . . (Listening carefully) . . . H'mm,

Oh my!! Tisk tisk!! . .. Yes, I see, How True!! How True!! This John The Baptist is Telling it like it is!!

P. What's he saying?? What do you mean, "Oh Dear, &

O My?!" And why is everyone looking up here shaking their fists in my direction??? What's He Saying Down There??

L. Ok, Are you ready for this??

P. Of Course, what could he possibly have to say to an important member of the Temple Elite == Like Me!

L. "YOU BROOD OF VIPERS! Who warned you to flee from the Wrath to Come? . . . Bear Fruit Worthy of Repentance!"

P. Do you think he's really telling me I have to Repent??

L. Of Course You have to repent, We All Do! JOHN IS ENCOURAGING ALL TO COME BEFORE GOD'S THRONE AND PRAY AND RETURN TO THE LORD WITH ALL OF THEIR HEART.

P. I'M NEVER GOING DOWN THERE TO BE HUMILIATED BY THAT DESERT PREACHER. He has No Authority to be Telling People to Repent! Only the Messiah who will Come can Give us True Hearts of Repentance.

L. That's Why We're Here!! AND I want to be ready for the One who is coming, He will Baptize Us with God's Spirit and Fire, because these are the TOOLS GOD uses to cleanse us and form us into his People. God wants To Make us Pure and to Give us HEARTS THAT YEARN FOR LOVE AND TO GIVE LOVE. All this begins with repenting and receiving John's Baptism.

I've Decided to go down there and learn more from John and get Baptized by him. I sure Hope You'll come too . . ..

P. You Go . . . I'll have to think about this a bit longer. I'll Just Wait Here and See. Do you believe God would Reveal TRUTH TO ME??

L. Yes, I think that if you are Sincere EVEN YOU CAN RECEIVE A WORD FROM GOD OUT HERE IN THE WILDERNESS. So Maybe it's GoOD IF YOU DO JUST STAY HERE TRY REALLY PRAYING OR MEDITATING OR SOMETHING.

P. That's Just what I'll Do. If this is the Truth of God . . . Then He will give me a sign.

L. I'll Pray for You. Sounds Like Your Heart is coming to a time of Preparation. That is How God Works you know. He softens us up over the years, He turns our Hard Hearts into Flesh. It's all part of Getting Ready for the Birth and Reign of the Messiah in our lives.

I Must go now. May the God of our ancestors reveal himself to you.

P. And You Also Sister.

Amen

Read more writings of Pastor Jon