Prophet in the Wilderness

Faith From the Margins to the Web: Second Sunday of Advent, Year C

Part 2 of the Faith from the Margins to the Web Advent Bible Study Group

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Luke 3:1-6


In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:

‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.

Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,

and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;

and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'”

Willie read the lesson for the Second Sunday in Advent, noting emphatically by his voice how John was calling people in the wilderness to repentance.

“It seems like there was always a need to repent, since the beginning of time. Maybe even since Cain and Abel” said Jonathan.

The group nodded as this sank in. “We’re often told we need to repent, but it seems like it isn’t just people today.”

“What do you think the wilderness looks like today?” I asked.

“I think the wilderness looks like Donald Trump” said Brad. “I mean, he scares me. I think about all the hate that we keep hearing. I feel like we are wandering in the wilderness”

“There’s so much killing” said David, “so much to be afraid of. But, I guess they all felt that way in John’s time, too.”

“You know, wilderness could be defined a whole lot of ways” said Ty. “I mean there’s physical wilderness, and there’s spiritual wilderness. It depends on the way you’re thinking about the word. You know, if you ask everybody here that same question you’re going to get that many answers. So now, you have to think of whether you’re speaking on a spiritual or a physical realm.”

“Can I add to that?” asked Willie, “You know, I was listening to the radio yesterday, and they brought up this idea of loneliness. At a time like this in the world, when we think we have so many ways to connect, they brought up loneliness. And you know, I thought about that. I mean here we are, gathered together and we’ve shared prayer and lunch and now this group. But there are so many people who are caught up in that wilderness of loneliness, who can’t connect or don’t know how to. They feel all alone, and that kind of loneliness is a wilderness.”

“It’s like, you can have a place and still be lost” said Ty. “Or, you can not have a place but have community. You know, some of those people out in the elements, what they need is people who will actually listen to them, hear them as human beings. The loneliness is a much of wilderness than a roof over their heads, maybe more.”

“That’s been me” said Eugene, “and sometimes when it seemed like I had the most I was lonely all the time. It look me losing a lot to find out all that I really had, because when I sit here with this group like this I realize that I have so much more than I ever thought I would back then.”

“I know that kind of lonely, too” said Jonathan. “There are people who worship material things and live just to get those things. But they are empty. And pretty soon, you start looking around at all the things and thinking, ‘what am I even going to do with all these things?’ Money and things never fill the void of loneliness. There are things you can’t put a price tag on.”

“I think of reading the bible” said Charles, “and I always find something in there that keeps me from being lonely. Those words get into my heart, and they stay there.”

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