The Yellow Signs - December 10th, 2017
Sometimes you know where you want to go. You know the best route. You are at ease because you are on familiar ground and you know exactly where you are going. And then some bright spark - and this happened again yesterday - decides the world would be a brighter place if it was illuminated by brightly coloured yellow signs emblazoned with the word ‘Diversion’. Arrows pointed in a new direction that was not of my choosing. The best laid plans and all that! Duly sabotaged!
You may think you know the route to Christmas whether it is through the festive season at church or through the myriad of arrangements you will be called along to make in the other important areas of your life. But then Advent throws up its own yellow signs. The route to Bethlehem is diverted and we are taken into the wilderness where we meet John the Baptist. Is this really what we signed up for? We want to celebrate the birth of Jesus not get diverted to some nincompoop who thinks locusts and wild honey constitutes a sensible diet.
But this may well prove to be a worthwhile diversion, however unwelcome it sounds. John preached an uncompromising message of repentance. Sometimes we think of this as making u-turns, stopping bad habits, collecting Brownie points or it is simply something we associate with the past. But that’s not necessarily repentance. In the wilderness there is nothing. It’s the point where you lay down your mobile phone, your keys, your wallet, your diary and everything else you depend on. It’s the point where you abandon retail therapy, lists of things to do, and the comfort of regular routine. It’s the point where you say: Ok God, it’s just me now. Me and you. And I am listening. That’s the point the yellow signs are directing you to.
So John appeared in the desert, baptizing and preaching. “Turn away from your sins and be baptized,” he told the people, “and God will forgive your sins.” Many people from the province of Judea and the city of Jerusalem went out to hear John. They confessed their sins, and he baptized them in the Jordan River.
Lord, so here I am. It’s just me. Me and you. No illusions, no pretence. I did not intend to say this prayer, but it seems I am here. And I stand in your presence, in the grace that will send your son. And I’m listening. Amen