For more commentary on this week's readings, see the Reflections on the Lectionary page, which
includes Goettler's current Living by the Word column as well as past magazine
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As the second Sunday
in advent approaches, I find the prophets of the season compelling. To my ears,
their message sounds pretty consistent: "Change the ways of this world."
Sometimes I want to
pretend that there are no more prophets, that the prophetic word is locked into
the biblical era. But them I'm reminded of the guy on my own porch, of the
pesky peace activists who insist on gathering on Mondays night in the park
downtown, of the little church on the other side of town where parishioners open
the doors every single night of the week to combat the gun violence in our
city. And I can't help but contrast those responses with my own meager
Christmas preparations, with our focus on inspiring worship and special
offerings and church order.
There is good reason
for all of those things, of course. Faithful worship, generous giving and
institutional well-being all matter in the realm of God. But so does the kind
of discomfort that John presents us with. To paraphrase the old bumper sticker:
If you aren't uncomfortable, you aren't paying attention. A cozy Christmas
fails to take the gospel seriously enough. In Advent especially, I feel the
need to counter the culture that pretends that all is right with the world.
After all, we know
better--as John makes very clear.
The prophets are
everywhere, if we will but pay attention. Their call to transformation cannot
be ignored. And this, more than any other Sunday, is the week to preach about