2 ADVENT, YEAR C
9 DEC 2018
MAKING THE HOUSE READY FOR THE LORD
Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but still nothing is as shining as it should be for you. Under the sink, for example, is an uproar of mice - it is the season of their many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves and through the walls the squirrels have gnawed their ragged entrances - but it is the season when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow; what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly up the path, to the door. And still I believe you will come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox, the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know that really I am speaking to you whenever I say, as I do all morning and afternoon: Come in, Come in.
+ Mary Oliver
I am about 10 years old and living with mom and dad. I don’t have any brothers or sisters; it is just the three of us. Thanksgiving is coming up and we will host my aunt, uncle and their children, one of whom is an adult and married and the others who are older teens but that’s ok because they don’t treat me like a baby. Mom is telling me what to do: I polish the good silver and check the china to make sure it is clean. I help dust and sweep and scrub and, when the day comes, get out all the good linens to put on the table. Mom will bake a pumpkin pie with Libby’s canned pumpkin and she trusts me to make whipping cream: chill the beaters and the bowl in the freezer. Beat it by hand so it won’t turn to butter. I know the drill. Once a year we set out all the good china and silverware and make whipping cream.
I am in the wilderness by the Jordan and there is John the Baptizer. There stands the herald announcing the Good News that is coming in the person of Jesus. Luke says Tiberius maybe the emperor; Herod, Philip, and Lysanias kings, and Annas and Caiaphas high priest, but they are nothing compared to John. John is the one with the real news and the one I am going to hear. He is under the radar; a nobody to the powers that be, yet I know that he is the one with the word of God!! John tells me to prepare, to get ready for the coming of someone and something so wonderful that words cannot contain it. What does it mean that John is saying that we are to repent? What must I do and what must you do? Are we so evil and full of wrong-doing that condemnation is our lot? I listen carefully to John, for God has chosen this man as the herald over the mighty rulers of Rome and Judea. God has chosen the poor and the lowly to me the messengers of the Good News.
What must I do? What must you do to prepare? Repent?? John tells me I must turn around my life and ask God to forgive me and that means I must turn around and live my life in a different way. That is how he says we begin to prepare to the great incoming of God’s kingdom that is to come. Make room for forgiveness!!
I believe John!! There is one coming and I must go and clean up my house and my life, I must prepare myself for something that I do not understand. I will never really be able to make my house shine nor my life perfect. I don’t think God is asking for a Better Homes and Gardens photoshoot.
So I ask John to baptize me as a sign that I will turn my life in a different direction and then I go back to the house and the family that I know. And there my relatives find that a plate has a crack in it or notice that I missed some tarnish on the silver. Maybe I put too much sugar in the whipping cream. But they do not care and if they notice at all they would not say so; it does not matter. We eat turkey and gravy and dressing and laugh and talk and share stories, and love, with one another. We are together in love and in the breaking of the bread.
Last Sunday was that of Hope, today is Love, and next Sunday will be Gaudete, or rejoice. We live in the wonderful expectation of Hope and Love. My life was turned around, I was brought to repentance, by the understanding that God did not send Jesus into the world to seek justice as punishment but to seek justice as restoration
And Mary Oliver? She is preparing for the coming of Jesus and of the kindom of God. She is preparing by making a place for all of creation to be made welcome.
As for me, whether the me who heard John the Baptizer or the me who stands before you today, I have trouble waiting for the coming of the Christ. I stand at the door and say, “Come in, Come in.”