A Rebellion of Repentance

Scripture Focus: Luke 3.10-14
10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.
14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” 

Reflection: A Rebellion of Repentance
By John Tillman

John the Baptizer was considered a prophet by the people, even though he did no “signs.” The only signs anyone ever got from John were the tongue-lashing of his teaching, his testimony about Jesus, and his sacramental baptism of repentance.

John was so outside the norms of his society that enemies said he “had a demon.” (Matthew 11.18) He rejected the cushy religious establishment and embraced radical asceticism, rejecting the typical comforts people associated with being blessed. He even rejected the comfortable teaching that, as children of Abraham, the Jews could smugly rely on God’s continued blessing.

If John’s person and message were so discomforting, how was he so popular? Why did the sinful, like Herod, like to listen to him? Of course, he had enemies, but even after his death, the religious leaders didn’t dare to slight him. (Mark 11.31-33)

John’s teaching had barbs of uncomfortable truth but also had hope. John acknowledged that the world was full of snakes but the snake-crusher was coming. (Genesis 3.15) The orchard was stricken with blight, but the axe was about to swing and the fruitless would be cut down.

People wanted to be on the side of the snake-crusher, not the snakes. They wanted the axe-swinger to notice their fruit and spare them. “What should we do?” they asked.

We might expect this crazed, desert preacher to recommend they quit their jobs, flee the city, and live in the desert eating bugs and honey. We expect him to tell the tax collectors, “Your job supports a corrupt empire’s financial system! Quit!” We expect the soldiers to hear, “Stop enforcing the evil laws of the empire!” We expect the downtrodden crowd to hear, “Rebel against the government! Join the uprising!” Instead, all John’s commands are financial in nature and they all involve staying IN the world.

“Don’t cheat. Keep working, even as part of the empire, but with integrity. Don’t steal. Keep bringing order to chaos through the law, but without abuse of power. Be foolishly generous. Be near the impoverished and help them.”

The repentance John describes is a rebellion more radical than violent insurrection. Rebellion out of hate only destroys. John’s rebellion of repentance is motivated by love that longs to restore what is right. The snake-crushing, axe-wielding one is coming. Allies of the snake-crusher will show fruitful repentance that brings justice, fairness, and abundance to the needy.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Morning Psalm
Turn from evil, and do good; and dwell in the land forever.
For the Lord loves justice; he does not forsake his faithful ones.
They shall be kept safe forever, but the offspring of the wicked shall be destroyed.
The righteous shall possess the land and dwell in it forever.
The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and their tongue speaks what is right.
The law of their God is in their heart, and their footsteps shall not falter. — Psalm 37.28-33

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Reading
Exodus 21 (Listen 4:44)
Luke 3 (Listen 5:24)

This Weekend’s Reading
Exodus 22 (Listen 4:44) Luke 4 (Listen 5:27)
Exodus 23 (Listen 4:44) Luke 5 (Listen 5:04)

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Our culture is radically expansionist…we are pressured to justify our existence. “You aren’t enough the way you are now. Become more.”

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In The Face of Wonder :: A Guided Prayer

Luke 1.46-47
My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

Reflection: In The Face of Wonder :: A Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

Before she delivered Jesus as a child, Mary delivered the gospel. 

Mary’s powerful confession, prayer, and prophecy, shows her familiarity with the scriptures and an intimate connection with God like the prophets of old. God’s Spirit breaks through into the world through the worship that is initiated by Elizabeth and Mary’s joyful reunion.

Pray this prayer repeatedly over the weekend, seeking God’s face and asking Him to break through into your world, asking him to speak the gospel through your worship and its resulting action.

Praying in Wonder, with Mary

“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.

Oh, God, when your wondrous work sweeps in to our world, we have no better way to respond than worship. 

From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.

Your glory, Lord, overcoming and transforming our weaknesses is cause for our souls to sing. 

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.

Your power, Holy Spirit, working on behalf of the outcasts and the downtrodden is the beat that our boots must march to. 

He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

Your call, Jesus, beckoning us to abandon our broken world for your righteousness, is a cry for freedom. 

The freedom the world seeks is freedom to dominate, dictate, and destroy. This freedom is a lie that seeks power and blessing for ourselves.

May we seek instead the freedom to serve, to create, and to restore. We can do this only in your power and through your Holy Spirit.

Jesus come to us. Jesus come through us to the world.


Prayer: The Request for Presence
Our God will come and will not keep silence; before him there is a consuming flame, and round about him a raging storm. — Psalm 50.3

Today’s Readings
Genesis 48 (Listen – 3:43) 
Luke 1.1-39-80 (Listen – 9:26)

Today’s Readings
Genesis 49 (Listen – 4:54) , Luke 2 (Listen – 6:11)
Genesis 50 (Listen – 4:07) , Luke 3 (Listen – 5:24)

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