The Blue mountains Franciscan Church
Sermon Preached at Springwood on Sunday 13th December 2015 by Br. Luke Efo
The 3rd Sunday of Advent Year C
Gospel: Luke 3:7-18
7 John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (Luke 3:7 NRSV)
O.K. So what did you expect to hear when you came down to the Jordan today? Well I sure didn’t expect to be called a son or a daughter of a viper!
So who does he think I am anyway? I am a citizen of Judah.
Repent?! Repent of what? I have kept the law to the letter and given my tithes of cumin. Stones! I have no idea what this wild man means, he says don’t you dare begin to utter that you are children of Abraham.
Why should God raise up children to Abraham from these stones at our feet, we are Abraham’s children, what have I got to be sorry for and how do I show it?
Wild man or not, he speaks with authority and the way he phrases the language in the threat of the axe laying at my feet gives the inkling of some hope that I wouldn’t be completely annihilated, that if I knew what I am supposed to do and began to do it that I would not be cut off completely from the land of the living but stand a chance in the hereafter. That I will not be uprooted but a skerrick remains for the shoot of repentance – when I know what that means.
That’s it, just ask, my mother always said ask and so I said ‘What then should we do?’ 11In reply he said to us, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’(Luke 3:10b,11NRSV) As simple as that! Sharing, caring, taking my eyes off myself to take time to look at the needs of my neighbour. Now I know. I am ashamed, for I have neither thought of the meaning nor heeded the commandment to truly love God with my whole being. I have forgotten the words of Micah that to do good is to do justice, love kindness and to walk humbly with God. (6:8)
And now even the unclean, the tax-collectors and the Gentiles, Soldiers are among us seeking baptism. What should they do, the tax-collectors, why, collect only what is due them. Yet in passing this comment I remain a sinner because even as I did not know my sins neither do they know theirs until enlightenment comes upon them and so the Teacher repeats it.13b ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’
Honesty – to the soldiers simply be satisfied with your pay 14 ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation,’ Well, this John fellow, this wild man doesn’t dress the best but he has the words, the Dabar of God on his tongue.
Suddenly it certainly felt that he might be someone else entirely, one we had waited for O so long, One who would liberate us from our Oppressors I Now everyone was thinking just as I was that here was the Messiah, the Anointed One.
Questioning in my heart, almost like there is another there within me, I yearn for the coming of the Holy One of Israel – and this wild man knew our thoughts. I baptise you with water, he says but the One coming after me is more powerful than me and I am unworthy to untie his sandal straps – and He will baptise us with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The Ruach Ha-Kodesh has only ever been given to Prophets, like this one, for priests and kings, never ever for people like us not even for those hmn Pharisees over there and this John is promising us a baptism of fire and the Ruach Ha-Kodesh. I know Joel prophesied about the Ruach Ha-Kodesh being poured out on all humankind (Joel 2:28) but who knew what that meant, but Fire?!
“The winnowing-fork” in the Holy One’s hands and he will stand in judgement (Jeremiah 15:7) just as the axe was laid at our ankles, we will be sifted by his winnowing-fork and those of us who have born the fruit of repentance will be tossed high into the Paradisiacal – oops my big word for the day – granary and those of us who have not will be tossed like chaff into the wind and burned in unquenchable fire.
Indeed, it is but good news for those who love God and show mercy and loving kindness to all, are honest, and live the commandments and who needs cumin anyway.
Br Andrew Efo
- Image …and The Life. 2016. WATERMARK (Mark 1:4-11) | …and The Life. [ONLINE] Available at:https://pastorgregumc.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/watermark-mark-14-11/. [Accessed 12 August 2016].