“You Brood of Vipers!” How Dare You? – Matthew 3:1-13 – Advent Two

You brood of vipers! How Dare you? How dare you continue to Santa-fy the incarnation of Christ? John the Baptist is our annual reminder of that darkness is all around us. Sadly, despite this annual reminder, we are all too willing to glorify this terrifying messenger as we relegate his apocalyptic warnings about the catastrophic events that are happening all around us. Repent! the very word itself means “turn around.” Repent! Turn around! Stop focusing on your efforts to Santa-fy the coming of Christ. Repent and see that John the Baptist’s warnings continue to cry out to us from the wilderness to warn us of the fires that threaten to burn. You brood of vipers! Behold! A prophet cries in the wilderness!  This is what she looks like…

Watch Greta Thunberg’s warning. (see the video above)

Every Advent, John the Baptist’s warnings are served up on a silver platter as we remember the darkness of his wilderness. After John came the ONE in whom the LOVE that is DIVINITY was embodied. Jesus of Nazareth embodied LOVE. In Jesus we can see a new way of being in the world which promises to user in the Reign of LOVE. Not the heart and flowers kind of love, but rather, the LOVE that is the source of reality itself. The kind of LOVE that is capable of changing the world, the LOVE that is willing to sacrifice and to suffer for the all of Creation. The LOVE that is the ONE we call God.

The Reign of LOVE is calling upon each of us to embody LOVE as Jesus embodied LOVE. John the Baptist described the realities of his day accurately, but John was so wrong about what the Reign of God would look like. John envisioned the wrath of God. But the ONE who IS God did not come dressed in wrath to inflict punishment, doom, and destruction. The ONE who IS God came as LOVE.  In Jesus we can see that LOVE – dressed in human flesh, a baby yes, a baby subject to all the perils and dangers of life in the world; but also, as a fully-grown human being. A human being that embodied the LOVE that IS God in ways that offered us a glimpse of a new way of being in the world.

Jesus rejected selfishness, greed, and violence as a way of being in the world because it simply is not capable of changing the realities that John the Baptist was shouting about. The ways of selfishness, greed and violence could not defeat the oppression, or the military might of Roman Empire. Jesus offered a vision of peace through justice; for justice is what LOVE looks like in public. Jesus embodied LOVE’s vision of peace through justice so powerfully that he posed a threat the very systems that the Empire relied upon to conquer the world with violence. Jesus’ dream of LOVE’s Reign of peace relied upon the kind of compassion for the poor and the oppressed, that cries out for justice.

The story of Jesus’ embodiment of LOVE is so powerful that not even death could kill it. Jesus’ vision lives and because this LOVE lives, we are able to respond to the voices who criy out in the darkness of the wilderness today. Greta Thunberg may be young but her cry, “How dare you!” condemns us all as a brood of vipers just as surely as John the Baptist’s cries to repent speaks to us each and every Advent calling us to turn around, to find a different way of being in the world. Turn around and see the oppression, the destruction, and the suffering our economic systems inflict upon the poor, the disadvantaged, the different, the stranger, and upon the Earth. The prophets, both ancient and modern cry out from the wilderness begging us to open ourselves to the LOVE that lives in each and every one of us.

Repent! Turn around and expect not doom, disaster, or suffering but miracles.  Expect the unexpected miracles that are born out of compassion which moves us to the kind of LOVE that parades around in public as justice. Justice for the poor. Justice for the stranger. Justice for the different. Justice for the suffering. Justice for the Earth. Justice for every baby that is yet to be born. For we are wonderfully and fearfully made, capable of great destruction and also capable of such great creativity. In each of us the LOVE that is DIVINITY lives and breathes. We are not powerless. We are the children of the ONE who IS LOVE.

Echoing John the Baptists call to “wake up”, Greta insists that the “world is waking up.” as she reveals that “the world is changing whether we like it or not”.  The question that we must face is whether or not we will REPENT! Will we turn around? Will we wake up to the truth that the economic systems that we have been content to participate in are not up to the task of ushering in LOVE’s reign of justice? Will we wake up to the truth that the comforts that we take for granted are denied to the vast majority of the world’s population? Will we wake up to the truth that the Earth cannot sustain our selfishness and greed? Will we wake up to the cries of our children and grandchildren to repent, to turn around?

The world is waking up whether we like it or not. For billions of people, we the wealthy, one percent are indeed a brood of vipers. To those of us who hear the cries of the prophets, prophets of old and prophets of today, the call to repent rings out and it is we who must decide to turn around. It is we who must decide whether to go back to sleep and simply keep on keeping on, or to stay awake to possibilities, to the opportunities, as we rise to the challenge of ushering in LOVE’s reign of peace through justice, justice for the poor, the oppressed, the stranger, the different, and justice for the Earth.

We have been richly blessed. To those to whom much has been given, much is expected. Created by LOVE, we are also created of LOVE; the very stuff of God lives in us. The ONE with the power which created universes, lives in, with, through, and beyond us. We have the wisdom and the capacity to turn around and be the LOVE that the world needs, NOW.

So, let us respond to darkness with compassion. Rejoice for YOU are wonderfully made! Let our compassion empower us to be LOVE in the world. Let us be more than a brood of vipers. Let us wake up ready willing and able to dare to be Christ again and again and again. Let us not give in to prophecies of doom. Let us not build walls or cower in fear. Let us not hide from the truth of the Earth’s wounds. Do not go back to sleep. Stay awake! Keep watch! Repent! Turn around! Let us embody LOVE so that together we can give birth to a new way of being in the world.  Let us be the followers of the Way and live into Jesus’ vision of peace through justice. Let us give birth to LOVE again and again and again…

1 thought on ““You Brood of Vipers!” How Dare You? – Matthew 3:1-13 – Advent Two

  1. OUTSSTANDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!PROFOUND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!GOSPEL FOR US TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Greta Thunberg’s Message to Us and The World with St. John The Baptizer’s Message to Us and The World keep us from “Santa-fying”what we heard in theirs and Pastor Dawn’s voices Today.
    Now it is up to us to become activist and do something!
    Pastor Jon Fogleman

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