But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance.” -Matthew 3: 7-8
This text of John the Baptist in the wilderness and all that he has to say as the people come to him to be baptized should make us uncomfortable. Not because it seems like a weird, out of place text in the season of Advent, but because we are a people not unlike the Saducees and Pharisees who have become too comfortable with things the way they are. We are really good at looking at the troubled world around us but not always able to put ourselves into the center of it, or even understand what it might be like to live in a situation that is different than our own. Last week Pastor Travis said in his sermon that the shooting at Club Q was national news until 5 days later when another mass shooting took it’s place. Are we comfortable with that? With knowing that tragedy is replaced by tragedy? I’m not sure if we feel helpless, we don’t know what the next right thing to do is going to be, or if we’re just afraid of leaving our comfort zone. This situation could of course apply to any number of crisis be it personal (death, loss of job, addictions) or communal (war, homelessness, hunger), either way all of it has become such commonplace that instead of overreacting we don’t react at all. John the Baptist is calling us to act, he is calling us to repent and not only in asking forgiveness but in a call to action, to leave our comfort zone of life as usual and repent with words and actions before the next crisis rather than in the wake of yet another senseless tragedy.