hear this

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the desert of Judea announcing, “Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!” He was the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke when he said:

The voice of one shouting in the wilderness,“Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight.”

John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. People from Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and all around the Jordan River came to him. As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. (Matthew 3:1-6 CEB)

See this scene in your mind. What a sight John the Baptist is to all who can see! Everything about him stands out from the religious norm of the day. Picture this.

Let this account wash over you and feel it touch your skin. Feel your feet ache from having made the journey there in sandals. Feel the sensation of the muddy Jordan River water running down all over you as you emerge from being baptized.

Can you smell this story? It smells of people and lots of them. Breathe in the crowd and how it’s made up of all sorts of people coming from all kinds of places and having traveled all sorts of distances just to be there.

Taste this text. Savor the sweetness of the ripe carob tree (locust) pods and honey. Can you taste the saltiness of the sweat dampening your lips now in the heat?

But if you sense only one thing in this word, hear it. Hear so clearly in your mind the words of a prophet long ago that for a moment, you wonder to yourself, “Did I hear them just now or is my memory of these words just that vivid?”

Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight.”

Hear the message of the prophet standing right in front of you loud and clear and hear then reverberate in your head as you take them quite personally.

“Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!”

Hear the contrition in the voices of those who confess their sins and hear yourself making confession, too, sensing the Lord’s work on your heart. Hear your splash in baptism join the sound of a dozen splashes you’ve heard already before you already.

Hear and respond, for the message today from God’s Spirit is the same as it has always been.

“Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!”

Let’s pray.

Holy Father in heaven, in the name of Jesus, give me ears to ears what the Spirit says. Well up within me conviction and courage to never be complacent about the things in my life that I know must change. May all of my senses be in tune to the daily progression of your kingdom, your rule, in my life. I will prepare the way for you into my life and make the way easy and direct for you to bring in your ways. To your glory, honor, and praise. Amen.