Signs, Signs, Everywhere…

Isaiah 40:1-11
Acts 13:14b-26
Luke 1:57-80

June 24, 2024 Abbey Church Abraham

The “Song of Zechariah” that we heard in our gospel story is familiar to anyone who has been around a monastery for any amount of time, because most Christian monastic communities recite it everyday. It is a good reminder that we are given the task of preparing people for the reception of Jesus as Lord. Many people tend to personalize it, especially the verse that says: “YOU, my child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for YOU will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.”

So, it seems that a big part of the job is proclaiming forgiveness of sins. We also know from the life of John the Baptist that he spent a lot of time reminding people that they HAVE sinned. Maybe our job is to put the two things together: letting the world know that there is right and wrong, and then letting people know that God forgives them when they inevitably mess up and do wrong.

We must do the two things in a mature fashion. In our proclamation of right and wrong, we need to be not so obsessed with simple sins that tend to be interesting to everyone (usually involving sex), and instead emphasize more harmful sins such as greed, oppression, and exploitation. In our proclamation of forgiveness, we need to not simply dismiss the sins, but to emphasize that they really are bad, that we really do them, and that they really hurt ourselves and others. Even with the knowledge that we will all sin, we must never use that knowledge as a reason to not care about the sin or frivolously excuse it.

It is also good to remember that we are preparing the way for Jesus as Lord, not for ourselves as petty tyrants. That means that one of the best ways of preparing for Jesus to come is to make sure that we get out of the way. AMEN