Reading: Luke 3
In our small little gathering of the Church last Wednesday night (more commonly known as small group) we took a moment to reflect on the worship season we’re about to enter. You know the one, the season devoted to the great god of productivity, the god of busyness, the diety of doing. Where we all try to fit months worth of work into several weeks, while also keeping up with the hundred and twenty two parties we have to attend, and making sure we also “catch up before the end of the year” with that one friend we haven’t seen for eleven months.
As we reflected, we discussed how our world is structured in such a way that it is almost impossible for us to escape being pulled into this trap of busyness, a trap that becomes so much harder to escape during this time of year. For some there was this sense of the inevitable, a feeling that we are almost trapped within systems that we have no control over, with little power to enact change. Systems which are just as dehumanizing to us, as they are to those around us, which turn people into products, denying our shared humanity for the sake of economic expediency.
The question we came to was “how do we rebel? How do we push back on the systems that rule our lives? How do we resist?
As I read my passage today I was struck by how it begins.
It begins with Empire.
With the powerful, with the strong, with those who run the world, and with a lone voice crying in the wilderness.
For the original reader of this passage there would have been little doubt that the Empire was in control, that they held sway, and yet, in the midst of this, there is a voice that chooses to desent.
Does John change the system over night? Does he tear down the Empire, or set the captive free? Does he rid the land of their colonizing oppressors? No, he stands up, he speaks out, and they kill him for it.
This isn’t the story of a victorious hero, John wasn’t successful in the manner we would normally define success. He was destined to prepare the way for the Messiah, to perhaps be the Chosen Ones right hand in the bloody revolution to come, but instead he was murdered before the revolution could even begin.
John is a reminder to me that we are not called to be successful, we’re not called to change the world, to unmake the mess we’ve found ourselves in, it’s not our job, and quite frankly we can’t undo any of these massive systems overnight.
What we are invited to do, is be faithful. John was the voice in the desert, when others chose to participate in worship and service of the Empire, John found ways to resist. Perhaps he didn’t really accomplish much, in the great scheme of things he was an irritating fly to a great King, and he was crushed with as much consideration. And yet, it was John’s faithfulness, and John’s commitment to resisting the Empires power, that was pivotal in preparing the way for the Messiah.
As we come into this crazy season, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by how powerless we are to change these systems that impact our lives and the lives of others. But John in his superb failure gives me courage, courage to find ridiculous, and perhaps seemingly meaningless, methods of resistance.
And I am reminded, it’s not my job to change the world, but simply to be faithful to the One I have chosen to follow.