In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch 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 country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all people will see God’s salvation.’”
1st Day of Advent
November 28, 2021
“I Will Not Die an Unlived Life” by Dawna Markova
I will not die an unlived life
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance.
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
To live is to catch fire. This strange man named John had taken up residence in an even stranger, more sinister place. He had chosen not to live in fear. He was open to God and to God’s word, a word Jeremiah compared to a burning fire shut up in his bones. John was combustible. The spark of the Spirit set him ablaze.
I am intrigued by the persons whom God’s word bypassed. Tiberius, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Philip, Lysanias, Annas, and Caiaphas were not recipients of God’s word. We must ask why.
Were these men fire-resistant? Were they self-extinguishing and immune to being impacted by divine fire? Were they fire-retardant? Had some existential reality inoculated them from flammability? Why weren’t they, like John, human conflagrations?
These men had one thing in common – power. They luxuriated in imperial, provincial, local, and ecclesial power. And God’s word did not rest upon them. Even Annas and Caiaphas, whose sphere was theological and cultic, were not privy to the flame of God’s word. Luke seems to suggest that God’s word has a hermeneutic of suspicion relative to power. Christians should be skeptical of power and those who seek it, ecclesial power notwithstanding.
As we watch those grabbing headlines and political and commercial victories, God’s word keeps marching into the wilderness and choosing John. The church should fear being bypassed by God’s word above all else. Preachers should fear being bypassed by God’s word above all else.
This Advent and always, the church must risk its perceived power and significance so that the seed of God’s word will blossom and bear fruit. Mercifully, we pray for God’s word not to bypass us, but to rest upon us.
In the words of Isaac Watts:
Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove
With all thy quickening powers
Kindle a flame of sacred love
In these cold hearts of ours.
Reverend William H. Lamar IV
Join us in a time of reflection, expectation, and contemplation during the season of Advent 2021.
Each day a new reflection with a scripture and prayer will be posted on the Metropolitan AME Church website and social media to encourage you to hear the words of those reflecting, anticipating, and contemplating with you in community as we thank God for what God has done, notice what God is actively doing and anticipate what God will do next.
Read along with us each day or download the book to read and write along with us offline.