Summary: God invites us to the greatest party of all time
During the Holiday season many of us will be doing some extra entertaining. We’ll take certain steps to ready ourselves for the visit of guests. The first thing we work on is the guest list: who can visit together amicably, ( in other words who can get along together) Then the invitations are sent out or we make the phone calls; our invitees accept (hooray1) -
Then we start to clean the house. We dust tables that haven’t been dusted since this time last year, we find special drawers to put all the junk mail, magazines and lose pencils and pens. We run around the house with air freshener, and every bathroom gets decorated with one of those scented candles. We take time and prepare very carefully for those whom we invite into our home. Thus when the doorbell rings announcing the arrival of our first guest, we are ready.
In today’s Gospel we see God going about similar preparations for the arrival of the Christ child. But you know God always does thing a bit differently than we would expect.
Take for instance the invitations. You see God invites the people a little differently. God didn’t mail invitations, or use the telephone. Instead God invited the people by sending out a special courier to announce the event: John the Baptist.
Why would God send John the Baptist.. John the Baptist, a rough, rugged, weatherworn, nonconformist, whose diet consists of grasshoppers and wild honey, who was always preaching out in the wilderness. This is not my idea of the ideal message service to give deliver the greatest invitations on earth.
But God knew what he was doing. Sometimes we have to trust that God knows what Gods doing even when we don’t think so. God had this whole thing figured out so well that the prophet Isaiah talked about spoke of John the Baptist mission some 700 years before John was ever born. Isaiah 40:3 says "Listen I hear the voice of someone shouting, "Make a highway for the Lord through the wilderness. Make a straight, smooth road through the desert for our God. These are the same words used by John the Baptist Matthew 3:3. You see God knew what he was doing, and what he is doing.
Now I say that, but I still have to say that I would have done it differently. You see instead of coming up with a guest list that would have insured peace and no problems God has John the Baptist to invite everybody. Can you imagine the catastrophe it would be if you really invited everyone. Who cares that Jill divorced Harry and is now married to Sam we’ll invite them all who cares that that Carl hates whites and Marcus hates Blacks we’ll invite them all. What Kind of crazy party would that be.. But that is just the kind of party the God throws. God has John the Baptist to invite everyone regardless of their race, regardless of their positions, and regardless of their differences. Even the Scribes and the Pharisees are there. The Scribes and the Pharisees were two religious groups that didn’t get along with one another. The Pharisees separated themselves from anything non-Jewish and carefully followed both the Old Testament laws and the oral traditions handed down through the Centuries. The Seduces on the other hand believed the Pentateuch alone was the word of God. They were descended manly from priestly nobility, while the Pharisees came from all classes of people.
But regardless of their attitude toward one another they two are invited to the celebration.
Here’s something else that Jesus does differently than we would. Instead of cleaning up by creating junk drawers to hide our mess, instead of covering up the stench and odor of our lives with perfume and candles God through John the Baptist has the people to bring all the sin and ugliness to light. Don’t just hide your sin in some corner of your life, but bring it out. Confess your sins, repent and let God take care of it. So often we think that we can take care of our own sins. So we put on our best, and act like everything is perfect. But all someone has to do is open the right junk drawer in our life and all of our frailties, or sins, all of those things we didn’t want anyone else to see will come to light. The truth is that we ourselves can’t do anything to clean up or get rid of our sin. Only God can clean that sin up.
Tide can’t get that stain out
Dawn can’t cut it
Only God can cleanse our sins.
That is what John the Baptist urged the people to do repent of your sins and let god clean up your life. John Baptized the people with water as a symbol of them being cleansed. But his harsh words to the Scribes and Pharisees are a reminded that we can’t just look clean on the outside. John says "Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God."