The Third Sunday of Advent – Dec. 16, 2018
Luke 3:7-18 – Homily by Rev. Dr. Rolf Svanoe
Last week we heard from John the Baptist. During Advent John gets two weeks to speak to us. So I have invited John to come back again. I’m going to put on my John the Baptist cap and ask you to use your imaginations as if John the Baptist were here speaking to you.
“Fire! That’s what they say about me. He preaches fire. And yet I wish that my words had the power to set people’s hearts and minds on fire for God. They come down from Jerusalem to hear me preach, here at the Jordan River. And I preach my sermons and they come to be baptized. But their hearts are not on fire. They shed these baptismal waters like a snake sheds its skin, and then go back to their greedy and selfish lives. Don’t live like snakes! Bear fruits worthy of your words. Share what you have with the poor, and don’t cheat or take advantage of the weak.
“Fire! Where are the people of God whose hearts burn within them when they read God’s word? Where are the people who long to share the love of God with others? Where are the people who have a passion for justice, who care for the poor and the powerless? Instead they grow complacent to suffering as long as their needs are being met.
“Fire! That’s what I want! And yet I see too many whose hearts have grown cold. Instead of giving God their first and best they give God the leftovers. Instead of being in the center God gets pushed into the corners of their lives.
“It was a poet who said it best:
Unless the eye catch fire, God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catch fire, God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catch fire, God will not be named.
Unless the heart catch fire, God will not be loved.
Unless the mind catch fire, God will not be known.
William Blake (1757-1827)
“I stand before you today, people of God, to tell you to get ready, for Messiah is coming! He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire: Fire to burn away the chaff, the sin of our lives; Fire to purify our hearts and minds; Fire to bring us the joy of sins forgiven; Fire to fill us with passion for God’s reign of justice in this world.
“Why so much fire? Because God is fire! God burns with love- for you! And God wants your love, longs for your love. Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul mind and strength= because God loves you.”
Thank you, John. In this Advent season, we prepare to celebrate Christmas, but we also prepare our hearts for Christ to come again, today, in Word and Sacrament. Through his death and resurrection, our sins are forgiven. That is indeed good news, news that can set our hearts on fire. Amen.