Life Notes—December 13, 2012
“John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the throng of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’ So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.’” Luke 3:16-18
Probably every athlete in every sport goes through some sort of preseason training—a time of preparing, physically and mentally, for the actual season. Often it involves extended and painful workouts, unusual practice hours and a grueling schedule intended to break old habits and form the athlete into a new being—one in game-shape, whatever that may mean for their particular sport. John the Baptist was sort of an Advent coach. His job was to prepare the people for the coming of Christ. The writer of the gospel of Luke claims “…he proclaimed the good news to the people.” When I think of good news, I think of something happy and pleasant. But what we read hardly sounds like fun. It sounds more like a drill sergeant in basic training screaming that we will be rising every morning at 4:00 am and running five miles uphill in the rain before breakfast.
John says Christ will baptize us with fire, separating the wheat from the chaff, the latter of which will be burned with unquenchable fire. The visual he was using, though it sounds strange today, was probably familiar and powerful at the time. When wheat was harvested, before it could be made into bread, the non-wheat debris had to be separated out. That which was not wheat was burned, leaving only the useful portion.
The alchemists of old purified gold and precious metals by burning away the impurities. Metaphorically speaking, this is what is done with an impure spirit—the impurities are burned away, leaving something cleaner, purer and more useful to the creator’s purposes. When we accept Jesus into our lives we begin a journey of change. When we surrender Jesus lordship over our lives we allow the less-useful, sinful parts of our lives to fall away. We do this so our spirit will draw ever closer to that of the pure and perfect Christ, even if burning away our impurities is painful at times. It is the only way to get from where we are into the presence of the One we long for. It requires a relationship. Advent is a period of training and preparation. The Christ-child is coming. Are you ready?
This will be the third Sunday of Advent. Tom preaches downtown where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00. Mitch preaches at the west campus where worship is at 9 and 11.
Come home to church this Sunday. This Christmas, do what it takes to get in the game…
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator