One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”
He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me: John’s baptism —was it from heaven, or of human origin?”
They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.”
So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.”
Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
Proclaiming the good news…
Yesterday began the Christian new year with the start of Advent. For the next four weeks we will try to engage our holy imaginations as we look toward Christmas. During this time we try to imagine what it must have been like for there to be no Christ. We try to place ourselves back into the 400 years of silence from Malachi to the coming of Christ into the world.
What must it have been like to live during a time when you are confident that God was silent?
If I’m honest with myself God feels awful silent a lot these days. These last nine months have been very hard. From the pandemic to a contentious election, many of us have wondered, “Where’s God in all this?”
I wish I could just make everything better. But, instead there is a call to persevere and press on in the face of the reality within which we live.
Winston Churchill said, “Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it. Ignorance may deride it. Malice may distort it. But there it is.”
But there it is, indeed.
The truth of the matter is that we are living in the midst of a global pandemic. Advent feels different this year. Everything feels different this year. So, what do we do? We can whine, complain, wring our hands, or stick our heads in the sand.
We can proclaim good news. No, seriously. We can actually proclaim good news. There are good and beautiful things happening all around us. Beauty, grace, goodness, and love are everywhere to be seen. There are people who are loving well at every turn. I am surrounded by them. The people in my neighborhood and congregation are some of the most caring, kind, and loving people that I know. They care for one another and those around them with a ferocity that is unmatched.
Amy and I were out walking last Saturday and we were discussing how in spite of everything that 2020 has brought, it has been a good year in so many ways. We have seen both our children thrive over the last year. Ethan has started college and is excelling. Libby is coming into her own during her junior year in high school and carries an infectious joy with her everywhere she goes.
God continues to provide for our every need. We have had sweet and unexpected times as a family during this year, that apart from the pandemic we wouldn’t have had.
There is good news all around us.
What story will we tell?
Will we tell the story of the good, the beautiful, and the lovely? Or will we tell the story of the hard, the ugly, and awful?
The thing about stories is that you get to pick which one you tell.
Jesus knew he was on his way toward the cross. What story did he choose? He chose to proclaim the good news.
During this Advent season, what story will you tell?