Friday, December 09, 2011

Preach a Little One: Advent 3B

Preached at my last Lower School Faculty Eucharist at St. Andrew's Episcopal School.  Every Friday morning, a few of us gather in the Jean Jones Downey Chapel for a brief and quiet service of Holy Eucharist before the children descend upon our day.  Still, the best part of the service for me is when the early-arriving children put their hands and faces against the narrow glass windows of the chapel to see what's going on...

John 1:6-8, 19-28

Do you remember nights at summer camp, when all the lights were finally out, and all the giggles were finally quiet, and you were finally falling asleep?

Perhaps you were cuddled under a quilt or snuggled inside a sleeping bag, already half-dreaming and yet still half-hearing the wilderness intone its evening prayers...a rise and fall of the cadences of crickets and bullfrogs and owls...

...and the shrill, high-pitched buzz of a mosquito in your ear.  The one you shoo away with a flick of your hand, but that returns, hovering directly over your eardrum.  Over and over you brush it off, pull up your covers, hide under your pillow, try to get comfortable with your hands over your ears, but still somehow the buzz pierces every defense.

With apologies to John the Baptist for comparing him to a pesky insect, that's what I thought of when I read this Sunday's gospel reading.  Perhaps his voice wasn't shrill (who knows?) but it certainly is strident in this quiet season of dreaming and listening, watching and waiting.  Like a mosquito that won't go away, John is back for a second week in a row, a voice crying out in the wilderness of Advent, keeping us awake with his buzz about the One who will come after him.  Prepare.  Testify.  Bear witness.  Make a straight path...

Shoo, the authorities tried to tell him, but John just cried out all the more.

In the wilderness and wildness of this Advent, I wonder what we are only half-hearing?  What voices are we trying to shoo away?  Whether shrill and strident, or soft and silent, what words from God keep buzzing in our ears, piercing every defense?  Keep awake.  Be not afraid.  Prepare.  Rejoice.  What is God trying to say to you?


Artwork: "Dabar," by Chuck Hoffman and Peg Carlson-Hoffman.  'Dabar' is Hebrew for 'word'.

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