December 13, 2015
The good news for today
John the Baptist answered questioners whether he was Messiah: “I am baptizing you just with water, but somebody more significant than I am is coming. I am not worthy to untie his shoelaces. He is going to baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnow is in his hand to sift his threshing floor and gather the good grain into his silo; the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Pressing them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people. (Luke 3, 16-18)
“He is going to baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Too quickly, we put these words into a ritual & religion, giving them a twist into something they are not. Baptism is less ritual than the change it signifies. Try re-phrasing that expression which John is telling you, his audience:
“The Messiah is going to immerse you—drown your old life—and raise you to a different (=”holy” really means “radically different”) way of life. It will change you the way fire changes the meat of sacrifice—making you “spiritual”—rising to become one with the air of nature, the way smoke acts—to integrate you into creation, into the “kingdom of the sky”—into God’s world.”
The Good News is your emergence from “this generation.” You arise a new born from the waters of HIS “baptism,” resurrected, your life transformed from just trying hard all the time, from feeling frustrated and alone, and from the isolation of just riding around on the merry-go-round of time. You awaken. You see. You hear. You are re-born.
You grasp Life, sifting out the “chaff”—the meaningless non-essentials, the distractions, and anxieties. You become grain without worthless chaff—life-giving stuff, shared food for your neighbor—you live the value of meaningful existence. You are not just behaviors of honesty, humility and acceptance, but a wholeness of mind, heart & soul, a re-birth—a child seeing everything fresh. You find the peace Christmas promises.