Last week, we let out a deep, “O God!”

 

It came as a prayer from our gut, giving cry to all the things that make us weary but also reminding ourselves of the Good News that’s being prepared for those who are watching for the new thing God is doing in Jesus Christ.

 

This week, as we listen to both Isaiah’s caress of wonder and joy, we also get an earful from John. Click here for John and here for Isaiah.

 

John’s not the touchy feely type.  You know, wandering in the dessert dressed in camel hair makes him kind of itchy.  John likes to scratch our souls – his gospel is a lot like his diet…locusts and honey…the hard truth coated with sweet good news to wash it down.

 

We are afraid.  Admit it.  The world thrives on fear.  The news is a giant billboard of fear.  We complain that sex sells – and surely it does – but that’s equally so when it comes to fear.  A brief sampling…

 

Top 3 stories on cbc.ca Nova Scotia:

 

1)    Halifax Police search for man who threatened woman with a gun.

Be afraid.  Our communities and personal safety are under threat.

 

2)    6 properties still dumping raw sewage into harbour.

Be afraid.  The very ground beneath our feet is questionable.

 

3)    Province buys Bowater lands.

Be afraid.  That pink slip just might be in the mailbox this morning.

 

24/7, 365, the news cycle is mostly a fear cycle.  People won’t pay attention unless there’s something to worry about.  John’s not that much help in this department. In some ways, he’d fit right in to the nightly fearcast with his fiery words.  Not exactly happy happy joy joy kinda guy is John.

 

But then, if you’re going to face your fears rather than simply entertain them, John is exactly the kind of messenger we need.  Not all of the heavenly messengers have halos and wings you know.

 

John lays it bear for all to see:  Now is the time.  Not tomorrow.  Bear fruit worthy of repentance.  Don’t think for one second that just because you go to church, your ahead of the line in the kingdom of heaven.  If that was the case, God could lift those kinda folks up from the very stones beneath our feet.  Don’t take the good news for granted – it’s not entertainment.  It matters.  To quote another well known teacher – if salt loses its saltiness, then what’s it good for?  If the tree yields no harvest, why wouldn’t you plant something that will?

 

If you’re like me, every now and again, you just look at the news of the world and say:  O God!  What should we do!  What can we do!

 

It’s a tough question that yields few easy answers.  John’s audience feel the same:  “Ok!  We hear you!  But…what are we supposed to do about it?  What does being a people of repentance actually look like?”

 

Dr. John is handing out prescriptions at the river.  Coat people – share your coats.  Food people – share your food.  Tax people – only take what’s required, give folks a break.  Soldiers – fight for what’s right, and forget about living by the “that’s just the way things are” lame excuse for corruption and violence.

 

What about us?  What can we do?  To paraphrase that well known carol…What can we give him, poor that we are?

 

John’s not looking for fear.  Neither is Jesus.  And despite all his fiery speech, John’s message is not: Be Afraid.

 

It’s Be Not Afraidbecause this is what you can do…bear fruit worthy of repentance.

 

Some of you may have seen this story: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2012/12/11/ns-video-kids-help-cop.html

 

Watch it.  This is what fruit worthy of repentance looks like from even the youngest among us who don’t have endless resources. They don’t even have the authority to decide their own bedtime!  But look at the incredible power and