Advent 3: Hold onto what you believe in the light….

hold on to what you believe in the light
When the darkness has robbed you of all your sight

Mumford & Sons

Sometimes when we hit rock bottom it’s really hard to remember what it was like when we weren’t there.

However much someone reminds us of the good times, or what we hoped for or held onto, there are times when we doubt and turn  our minds to wondering, surely that wasn’t right, there can’t be any hope really, Maybe it was all a mistake.

John has found himself in prison , for speaking out to Herod,  and from this low point in his life, with the threat of death looming over him daily he begins to doubt all those things he so confidently prophesied and preached,  the welcoming of Jesus as the Messiah, the hope for the future, the coming of the Kingdom of God,

And so he sends a messenger to Jesus to ask “ are you really the one or should we wait for someone else”

It’s not an unfamiliar position –I’ll confess on dark days I sometimes look at what I’m doing and think, What? What’s this all about?

Because I’m flawed & human, and just because Ive been called to do a certain job doesn’t make that any less true, or make me any less flawed & doubtful.

John is a wonderful example of the flawed humanity that we all are, that God still somehow manages to use.

Even as I’m writing this, I’m  almost reluctant to,  I’m nervous of admitting that yes God uses us despite our mistakes and our doubts, and that hitting the bottom is not the end because to say that to you,  is to start to look up and not down, and confront the doubts and the fear that live in all of us, me included.

Because so often in front of us is the glaring evidence for what we believe in, and are too scared to wake up to.

In answer to Johns question, Jesus says

Well the lame are walking and the blind are seeing , the sick are healed, and the poor have good news…

In other words, come on … what did you think? Remember what you were preaching? Well its happening, … Look…

We’re not told how John reacted,  perhaps he was warmed and cheered and restored, or perhaps he remained in the depths of doubt, but the fact remained, that what he’d heard from God, what he’d preached what he proclaimed, was indeed the truth, was happening, and Jesus was the Christ, the chosen one.

Jesus then talks to the crowds about John, in his absence

Perhaps they’re muttering about whats happened to him, the scandal of prison? The doubting questions?

Jesus says “ well what were you expecting? Someone in soft robes?”

In other words, he reminds them of Johns nature as a prophet, a messenger

Someone who isn’t perfect, who is flawed & human,

But who speaks,  and is challenging, and proclaims the word of God –prepare the way…

Sometimes we make the task too easy , or we expect it to be too smooth.

Proclaiming the Kingdom of God is not an easy task, and it comes with great highs and great lows too, as John himself experienced,

Our hope is not an easy twinkly Christmas decoration hope, but a gritty, hard graft battling on in the wilderness hope. Leveling mountains and straightening paths is hard work!!

We are all however called to this work, this proclamation

We are all called to prepare the way, to proclaim the kingdom, each of us as Christians is called to have that prophetic voice that opens the gates and flings wide the doors for the coming of the King and the growth of the Kingdom.

And we, like all those who speak out for justice and Kingdome values find ourselves disregarded and pushed back,

But we are called to keep on, with hope, with courage.

Today South Africa buries a man who could well be called a prophet.

A man who was human, and flawed like all of us,  who walked his long road, straightening the paths of South Africa, walking away from  the past, redeeming mistakes and bad judgements,

Mandela spoke out for justice and reconciliation,

I have no doubt that in those darkest times, in the long years in prison, and at times after, that he doubted, just as we all do, he wondered why,

But he continued to show the way,

Reconciliation, redemption and peace, levelling the hills, straightening the paths, ushering in a little bit more of God’s Kingdom, in that place, and showing this world another way.

His own faith inspired him and sustained him.

And we pray today that the light he carried for peace & unity, for Kingdom values, can be taken up and spread.

And in our own lives, we pray that we are attentive, awake & discerning, to speak out for the Kingdom, and when the dark times come, personally or  in any other way, to remember what we knew, what we know in the light of God, and to hang on to that as we walk on, preparing the way, proclaiming the Kingdom.

 

 

 

 

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