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Flap Your Wings
Topic Started: Dec 6 2009, 10:26 AM (577 Views)
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Psalms 126:1-6; Phillipians 1:4-6,8-11; Luke 3:1-6

"He went through the whole Jordan district proclaiming a baptism of repentance" (Luke 3:3).

In today's Gospel Lesson, we hear once again about how in Luke's words, "The Word of God" came to John the Baptist, "in the wilderness," and how "he went through the whole Jordan district proclaiming a baptism of repentance" (Lk. 3:2,3).

John's mission, Luke tells us, was described centuries earlier by the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah: "a voice cries in the wilderness" (Lk. 3:4).

The voice crying in the wilderness, the voice proclaiming a Baptism of repentance, was the voice of Wisdom. The promised Messiah is coming, it cried out, so be prepared! Get ready! Open the latest revised edition of the book that is you, read it carefully and critically, and you will discover that it is in need of radical change: a complete rewrite, a brand new edition of the book of you. In terms of who you are and what you ought to be doing with your life, the Voice of Wisdom is telling you to change.

A popular author once observed that after two ducks get into a fight, which never lasts long, they separate and float off in opposite directions. Then each duck will flap its wings vigorously a few times, thus releasing the surplus energy built up during the fight. After they flap their wings, they float together peacefully, as if nothing had ever happened.

The author conjectures that if the ducks had a human mind, they would keep the fight alive by making up a story that would go something like this: "I don't believe what just happened. He came to within inches of me. He thinks he owns this pond. He has no consideration for my private space. I'll never trust him again." And on and on it goes.1

The lesson from our friend the duck is a simple one: Flap your wings and let go of the story!

Jesus wishes us to live and learn how to flap our wings, so to speak -- how to unburden ourselves from enmity, hate and vengeance, and free ourselves up for joy. We may belong to a free country but are we truly free? The fruit of freedom, in the Gospel sense is wholeness. And achieving it involves learning to be free of the habitual behaviors that keep us spiritually and emotionally enslaved.

We know Jesus is coming again in the end-time. We believe that. We hope and trust in that future reality. When and how it will take place is not our concern. That's God's business. Our concern is the present event, our own God-given ministry on this earth. Our concern is how to respond to the loving Christ-Presence in our lives now. No need to watch and wait. The Lord is with us! But are you prepared to meet Him now? Have you had the foresight to repent in anticipation of the experience of His immediate Presence in your life?

For many, repentance is a word that belongs to yesterday. It's one of those slippery words. We hear the word and we speak the word without attaching any real meaning to it.

For some, there is a vague understanding of repentance as something that is done when one is caught. But repentance is far more than blurting out "I'm sorry" when one gets caught doing something deemed wrong by conventional society.

For some, there is a vague understanding of repentance as the act of turning back to God after having turned away from Him.

For some, there is a vague understanding of repentance as involving a change in attitude or a change of mind or turning over a new leaf. And there are elements of truth in such notions.

The Gospel truth is that genuine repentance means much more than changing one's mind or feeling sorry for one's sins or telling God we are on His side again. Fruit-bearing is the sign of true repentance. The evidence of repentance is to be found in the fruit that is brought forth from our lives. Repentance is a positive action -- something that does some good.2

John the Baptizer proclaimed the coming of the Lord Jesus, saying, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" (Mt. 3:2). "If you are repentant, produce the appropriate fruits," he said. And the multitudes asked him, "What must we do then?" And he answered them, "If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same" (Lk. 3:8,10,11).

To understand repentance as orienting our lives toward Christ -- "The Man For Others" -- is to realize that it is not a one-time event or a once-in-a-while event, but an ongoing affair: a way of life...

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