Advent 2c – Sunday 9th December 2012
Luke 3: 1-6
In the fifteenth year of the rule of Caesar Tiberius—it was while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea; Herod, ruler of Galilee; his brother Philip, ruler of Iturea and Trachonitis; Lysanias, ruler of Abilene; during the Chief-Priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas—John, Zachariah’s son, out in the desert at the time, received a message from God. He went all through the country around the Jordan River preaching a baptism of life-change leading to forgiveness of sins, as described in the words of Isaiah the prophet:
Thunder in the desert!
“Prepare God’s arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!
Every ditch will be filled in,
Every bump smoothed out,
The detours straightened out,
All the ruts paved over.
Everyone will be there to see
The parade of God’s salvation.”
What’s the point? Where does the emphasis lie in this reading from Luke’s gospel? Does the list of leaders at the beginning point us in any specific direction? Or does the focus on Isaiah’s prophecy lead us down another route?
Should a passage be one dimensional? Or is it enhance by other aspects? I’ve been to the cinema on a few occasions and watched 3-D films and on most occasions it seems to add something to the film rather subtract. I’ve even experienced Sponge Bob Square Pants in 4-D!
So if a Bible passage is multi-dimensional then it adds depth, height, intensity, texture and meaning to the words. And the depth to this passage is introduced by the wonderfully challenging words of Isaiah. Intensity is met when the unasked question seems to be: see this list of leaders? Are they preparing God’s arrival? Height is added by the presence of John, a well-respected if somewhat unorthodox influence, and his straight talking, no-nonsense approach to faith and life. Texture is added in the meeting between prophets old and new – Isaiah and John. And meaning is to be found in 10 words that lie in the middle of this passage that often get overlooked: “a baptism of life-change leading to forgiveness of sins”.
What’s the point? This Advent go out and look for the depth, height, intensity, texture and meaning that you might be missing that add another dimension to the Christmas story and our life of faith. Find the story of salvation.