So yesterday was a pretty busy day for me (which might explain why worship today went the way it did…), first there was the installation service over at King of Life in Coquitlam where I was preaching, and then I had a quick break before driving our oldest son to a birthday party (which was right on the New West side of the New West/Coquitlam border… good thing gas was a bit cheaper yesterday). I typically stay at these birthday parties because my kids like it when I’m there (to hold their stuff) and I like chatting with the other parents.
Yesterday’s party was a bit different though. First, I notice a lot of the kid’s school friend’s parents (which I am one of) didn’t stick around. The majority of them dropped their kid off and left, not to be seen again until the party ended. But the family also invited a bunch of their other friends and family, which made three very distinct groups of people who didn’t really know each other at all.
And really, if you were a fly on the wall at this party and didn’t know anyone, it was very clear who was part of which group. There was the school group (of which I was a part of), the friend group, and the family group. There was little to no intermingling. And that’s fine, I was thinking, I don’t have to be friends with everyone.
That is, until I asked my son how the party was and apparently those borders between groups extended to the kids too. He said he met the other kids briefly, but no one played with anyone but those in their specific group. It didn’t seem intentional in that they didn’t like each other, but I thought it was interesting that no one wanted to (or perhaps just neglected to) reach out to another group with the commonality that they were all there to celebrate this kid’s birthday.
But hey, at least there was pizza.
We are already heading into the second Sunday of Advent, one that is typically reserved for themes around peace. And the peace that we see through these texts in the peace between people, the bringing down of the walls that stand in the way of community, the invitation and welcome that we share in Christ.
But what of the “brood of vipers” language that John uses? How is that peaceful talk?
The thing is that John the baptizer was encouraging the people to repent, that is, to admit where our own selfishness and pride has gotten in the way of peace and community. The Pharisees and Sadducees, by John’s understanding was being baptized not from a place of repentance and peace, but from selfishness, pride, and exclusion. In that they were thinking that baptism would solidify them in the “in” crowd.
But John was telling them that the point was to be cleansed of all that hinders us, to repent from all that stands in our way, to be alleviated of all the barriers that come in between us and those who aren’t us and keeping us away from community. This is what Jesus came for to show us, what Jesus is coming to show us, and what Jesus is here right now showing us. We are relational beings created to be relational, to live in community, and to be at peace with each other.
So in this Advent season, may we recognise and repent from all that keeps us from community and right relationship, that we might welcome the Christ child in our lives in peace.
Have a great week, everyone!