Good morning all! Wow, could it be the beginning of a new week already? And Happy Hanukkah to our sisters and brothers in the Jewish faith!
Today’s scripture: Luke 3:1-6 (NRSV)
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler 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 region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
Today at the CoOp we are rethinking preparedness. When that word comes up in our world it tends to create fear in many. It tells us that we have to hoard what we have and store up. From what I read and hear, it also tends to ignite a kind of isolation as you get ready for whatever disaster the news tells us is on the horizon. But this kind of preparedness is not the one John cries out from the wilderness. John motions in the completely other direction, instead of an inward turning, he is telling us to open up to what is to come. Get rid of whatever is on our hearts or holding us back to receiving. Repent of what is imprisoning you so you can be ready to be part of this transformation. John’s kind of preparedness is about community and new visions and seeing that the revolution has begun. And the writer Luke plunks that down right in the middle of important history. We all have a context and we all need to prepare in the midst of the political and religious. Open wide, make things low so that we are ready.
This changes how I prepare. Instead of hoarding up extra food and extra water perhaps I need to prepare by meditation or service in my community. Or perhaps I need to make room for stillness in order to prepare for action to come.
Last night I was in a concert with fifty other women. I was part of the McMinnville Women’s choir. We are a small but mighty crew of thirteen (so far) and we had the great privilege to sing with Jubilate! The Women’s Chorus of Corvallis who brought about 40 of their choir members to sing part of their concert but also to sing with us. So we entered together, they sang, we sang a few songs, they sang a few songs, and then we sang again together. This is all after we had rehearsed in the afternoon and had eaten together. I realized when I got home and collapsed in the couch in excellent tiredness that my face was sore a bit from smiling in such a contented way. Our little choir had such a fabulous time and were so nervous but so energetic to share what we had learned. We sang our little hearts out and at the end of the day opened our hearts in transformative ways. There is something about singing with a group of people (and for last night a group of women specifically) that prepares for community, for the spirit to sneak in, and for the world to look transformed in those moments. This was probably the best preparation that we could have asked for. I hope that all of you out in the audience had a preparing moment as well. Music does that. It gets into places that we didn’t even know existed and opens us up.
What else might you need to prepare today? What are you preparing for? Do you need chocolate and a good book to accompany you? Do you need moments of still or moments of chaos? Do you need to sing out in your joy and your trepidation? May we all pray for that moment of prep this morning.
Prayer: O God, larger than anything we can imagine and yet ever present in the smallest details, prepare our hearts to receive your love and send us back out into the world in action. Amen.