It would also be swell to have glasses that help us see the context that surrounds the scriptural texts. You could read or hear the words and look through the lenses And see the assumptions and landscapes That are completely obscured by time and distance. In the gospel today We heard the names of 7 leaders of empire and locality and religion to set the scene that John is proclaiming in. What Luke is telling us is not like a memorized list of kings and queens, But that the scene Is dark and villainous. An expanding and anxious empire led by Tiberius, a military genius who as emperor was cruel, deranged and entirely depraved. Then Pilate who is the best known and least terrible of the list. Then there is a Herod, desperate, selfish and violently ambitious. The list of names is a list of lamentations, a list of terror. If you had the glasses you would be seeing nothing but sharp red spikes.
Into this fearsome moment, John is re-introduced. The son of the priest Zechariah John goes about the waters of the Jordan with a heritage of insiderness, prophecy, and eccentricity. John was a circuit rider it seems, going to busy, populated places in the Jordan river valley, where people went to get water and so on. And right there in the middle of everyday life, John was offering freedom from the sins that bind us, an outer expression of an inner soul cleansing, Baptism in the river that is a reshaping of the heart and the mind, a transformation of life In the forgiveness of sins. John the Baptizer is offering free new lenses that prepare all to hear and know the savior when he comes. John is offering spectacles that dissolve our dualisms and enlarges our heart and unclogs our ears from all the nonsense. Would our inner and outer worlds be so embattled and so lost if everyone had been living in the way we might live if we had glasses that showed us the whole creation as God sees it?
In Advent we are offered holy spectacles to see and feel and know that God is transforming injustices, paving a path to freedom for all people - right now. Again and again, we are led to live into the vision of becoming soul free. It is interesting to me to think About Luna Lovegood and John the Baptizer In one moment. If you don’t know either, Luna is the brilliant but quirky daughter of a conspiracy theorist publisher in the wizarding world of Harry Potter. She doesn’t have any need or concern for what is conventional or expected. Maligned and dismissed a young woman deep with trust and truth. John the son of the very old priest and his plenty old wife, doesn’t seem to have any need for the conventions that prop up cruelty either. Instead, he gives free-flowing comfort and direction in the middle of terror and fragmentation. Would you show up at the river or would John just be too strange too outside too other for you to give into the divine leading questions he proclaims? If you had those holy spectraspecs who would you see very differently if you saw them as God sees them?
Do you need these special glasses? I don’t have holy rose-colored lenses. But what I do have is what Jesus offers all of us - sacred bread and wine. Outward signs of Inner light. Refreshing our baptismal commitment to Jesus’ way, truth and life. Returning to his table, again and again, is a central part of the lifelong journey to learn to look with love speak without deceit and dare with hope. Jesus is coming, and it is about God’s radical interruption into our conventional lostness with the promise of eternal connectedness. To find our way out of the depravity and twisted falsehood that lead to the cross and the tomb.
God waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God. Christ is coming, to make all things free - including you. Do you see what God sees? Come o Lord and set us free, give your people peace. Come o Lord and set us free, Come o Jesus come.
Grace Episcopal Church
Pemberton, New Jersey