Light two candles…begin your prayer time by lighting the first purple candle, the Hope candle and the second purple candle. The “Peace” candle…or the Prophecy candle…
READ: Luke 7: 18-35
So John summoned two of his disciples 19 and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
You might want to take the time to read through this text again. It is, at first glance, not what it seems. Ever been frustrated with God? Ever wanted to be frustrated with God, but convinced yourself it was a sin or wrong or weird?
A little back story for you. If we lay the Gospel of Matthew next to this passage in Luke, we learn that John “sends” his followers because, well, he is in prison. He can’t come to Jesus himself. He is captive, and the Messiah was sent to “set the captives free,” so this passage in this sense is more about John’s impatience. It could really read more like, “Dude…are you ever gonna get to the work of freeing us captives, or should we just start looking for someone else.” Because John already knows exactly WHO Jesus is…it was revealed that John would lead the way for Jesus when they were both in the womb. John, let’s be clear, is not mistaken about Jesus’ identity.
He is desperate. He is ready.
This current ruler, young Herod Antipas, is no better to this small group of Jews than his father Herod the Great had been. The Jews in Israel were under Empire rule, and as such, were required to spend energy maneuvering life and faith. As is often the case in life, even today, the few with wealth, stature and privilege, held very different lives than the poor or lowly.
John’s question is a powerful one for anyone who has felt left out, alone, lost or desperate. “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
Waiting is hard. It can often rob us of our joy and creativity. We wait for all sorts of things: job changes, healing, big breaks, money, holidays…the list could go on and on and on.
And, during this Advent, while we wait for the Messiah, we also KNOW, just as John knew, exactly who Jesus is. Just as Jesus tells the crowd and John’s followers.
“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers[b] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. 23 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
Jesus is busy, even when we can’t see it, even when John can’t see it. Jesus is busy doing the work that Jesus does…giving sight, healing, giving sound, bring good news, and raising us from our dead selves to new life. Jesus doesn’t promise John that his body will be physically “freed” from the bars of prison. Jesus promises new life, peace, healing of the soul…the inside…the place where all other actions grow out from. Jesus promises himself, and even while we wait, we know that God is with us.
Healing God, oh how we are impatient. We want what we want, when we want it. Forgive us our questioning, and thank you for hearing it anyway. Forgive us our desperation, and thank you for answering it anyway. Help us to see “who” you are everyday of our lives in the lives of others. In the name of the one who came as a babe in Bethlehem. Amen
This about a time when you truly felt at peace. What was at the center of that? Share with a friend or in the comments below.
About Mitzie…Mitzie Schafer is a Deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Florida Gulf Coast University and a Master of Art in Religion from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary with a concentration in Christian Education and Christian Spirituality. She has been writing curriculum and teaching faith formation for more than ten years. Mitzie’s faith is grounded in the belief that God is the initiator and we are the respondent. That God’s yes is always bigger than our no. That being created in the image of the Creator, makes us by our very nature, creative. And that God LOVES ALL people.
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