Summary: Everyone has relatives that seem strange. Jesus was not any different except that the crazy opinions and words were from God.
It happened for the first time this week…I was asked the question that I dread…Are you ready for Christmas? My standard response is to say that it is not Christmas Eve yet? I ask what the big hurry is….?
My point of view on Christmas shopping is not well received at my house. I am not considered much help when it comes to getting ready. I do acknowledge that it takes a lot to get ready.
We are quickly approaching the days when people will be getting ready for a house full or getting ready to travel. Some houses will be packed. The Roads and airports will be full of people willing to spend time, energy and money to be with loved ones. It all sounds great doesn’t it, relatives getting together?
In some families getting relatives together is often a bit stressful.
Many families have at least one member that acts a little strange. You know they have a little personality quirk. They may say what ever is on their mind wither it hurts feelings or not. Perhaps they are just loud or nothing is good enough. Maybe they are always doing better than you or their health or situation is worse than yours.
For some of my family, that person is me.
However, for me it was my aunt Gerry (Geraldine). A madden aunt that lived much of her life in California. She sent us the strangest gifts during the year and at Christmas. She talked about weird things in her letters.
When she was in her late 60’s she moved to Birmingham where we were living. She had this harsh laugh and strange clothes. She wanted us to help her go gold-panning on the weekends. She had strong opinions on every subject, even the ones that she had little or absolutely no personal experience with.
She was always invited to the family Christmas party…. because Family is family.
In today’s scripture we have a family member of Jesus showing up.
A man that lived in the wilderness, either in a community that isolated itself from the city folks or he may have lived alone.
From the basic description he sounds like he would look pretty scary. He probably had wild hair with a long beard.
He dresses funny. Camel hair clothes and I am not talking about a cardigan sweater with stylish lines. I am talking about, tanned hide, or camel hair woven into a fabric stitched together with home made thread. I would imagine that it was made less for comfort and decency and more for protection from thorns and insects. Style and fit probably gave way to durability. He has a wide leather belt also probably hand-made to hold his clothing close to the body. I doubt it was an accessory to match his sandals, which I suspect he had to protect his feet.
His eating habits were strange as well. Locust and wild honey, not exactly something I look for at the family Christmas meal. It is not claimed that that was his favorite meal so perhaps it is just one of those quirks we remember about family. Maybe he did it only once…but everyone has to retell the story or perhaps John was an early version of survivor man and it is a statement of how hard the wilderness life really was.
The Gospel of Mark starts up in a sort of strange way doesn’t it? Mark does not offer a lot of preliminary data or background. He just jumps into the Good News of Jesus starting just minutes before Jesus comes to the River Jordan to be baptized.
Ok, Where is the baby? Where is the story of the hard trip, and the angels. That is what it is all about, right?
Advent season is about preparation and meditation more than it is about the physical birth of Jesus.
For most of us preparation during Advent means dragging out the boxes of decorations, setting up the tree, making the house look festive and the annual making of the list ceremonies. The naughty and nice list, the who is invited list, the shopping list…. It probably goes farther, preparations of special foods and the purchase and wrapping of gifts.
-- There could easily be thousands of little things required to happen before Christmas actually gets here. --- We often wonder, where did the time go!
This passage seems like a strange choice for the Advent season. The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.”
It is said that Advent is a season is celebrated to remind Christians about the original waiting done by the Hebrews for the birth of the Messiah. But that is only half of it. It is also the time we acknowledge how Christians wait today for the second coming of Christ.