What kind of impression is this to people who do not yet know God? Or your community (followers of Christ)? Or those who are new in your sphere of influence?
Pastor Todd titled his semon on Sudnay “Motivating Change” and then talked about how John apparently used a fear-based tactic in trying to get people to repent and turn to follow God.
Now, there are a variety of ways for motivating change, but it seems to me that the most helpful, in faith-based actions, are not by threats. Rather, it is a gentle (maybe urgent) welcoming. While John the Baptist certainly got our attention on Sunday, it was the retelling of the Nativity Story by the kids that will likely be remembered more clearly.
This juxtaposition is helpful for us to consider, in our day-to-day journey. We hear it all the time in business and teaching and with motivational speakers - “One attracts more flies with honey than vinegar.” The literal meaning is that if you have flies in your home, you will have better success catching them with honey than with vinegar. The broader meaning is that in life, you will have more success if you go about things with sweetness rather than with acidity.
Let’s not try to compare Jesus solely with sweetness, he did have harsh words for us a time or two as well. In the main, however, can we agree that as we continue to build community, and connection that we make an effort to actually follow Jesus? John was there to do exactly what he did. To get our attention. Wake us up. Summon us to be watching.
We are more than halfway through Advent, which is marked by the rose colored candle on the Advent wreath (Pink represents joy and rejoicing as well as revealing a shift in the season of Advent away from repentance and toward celebration.) What a great Sunday for us to have that shift!
As we look ahead, let us then consider the last Sunday of Advent and the candle of Love. We will look at the relationship of Mary and Elizabeth as women at each end of childbearing years, who both quite unexpectedly have new life growing within them. It is an opportunity for us to look at the life that we carry within us and how we will bring this new life into the world.
Peace, Pastor Erin