Get Real Like John

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

What are you doing for a Christmas card this year? Will you draft a letter that you place inside the envelope you send out? It is hard to draft an authentic Christmas message I think. One temptation is to brag a bit and talk of how everything is nice and filled with sugar and spice. Another option I suppose is to pronounce doom and gloom and take all the “Merry” out of Christmas and who wants to be the one who does that ?

John the Baptist sent out the first Christmas greeting when he came out of the wilderness and said , “…Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."(Matthew 3:3). John went on to call all those who came out, “You brood of vipers!"(Matthew 3:7) Seems to me that John had some awkward, yet solid theology here.

“Prepare,” he is telling them, just as with any big occasion you need to get ready. The one who is coming can heal the deepest wound. Wherever hopes have been lost, the one we prepare for can bring restoration. To get at the places where wounds have formed and hopes have been lost, the people need to"repent,” which means to become authentic and turn toward Jesus, baring your brokenness.

“Vipers,” was a term to get the attention of the human heart that would rather conceal than reveal. John did not care if it put his pension plan on the line-he was going to tell it like it is...“You bunch of snakes !” He urges them to pay attention to the good news that brings healing and hope to those who will repent and admit their need.

For John, his Christmas greeting was mingled with a bit of boasting about the one to come, and a scolding to get real about the realities of sin and brokenness in their lives. May you posture your Christmas greeting this season in the spirit of John. Allow for some proclamation of the wonder of the Christ child who addresses the most authentic realties of human need, so that the world might be forever transformed by the love of our Creator.

Still in one peace,

David J. Jensen

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