By Rebecca Taylor
Endings are strange things – they call us to the future. What’s next? What do I do now? Where do I go from here? Beginnings, however, call us into the present moment. In beginnings, we stand in awe. We see things new, and fresh, and real, and exciting.If we were uncomplicated souls, this dichotomy of beginning when we’re in the midst of finishing wouldn’t be so puzzling. Alas, we are in fact complicated souls, and as a group (read: family, nation, world, and…the Church), we’re even more complex. For some, this season represents joy and twinkle lights and cozy Christmas carols. For others, it represents despair, loneliness, depression. What some see as justice, others see as cruelty. What some see as left, others see as right.
When others are finishing, we’re beginning.
All of this complexity and nuance creates a swirling flurry of thoughts in addition to the every-day busyness of the season. The noise and confusion can feel overwhelming. Or in the words of the great theologian, The Grinch, “If there’s one thing I hate it’s all the noise, noise, noise, NOISE.”
Is it any wonder, then, that the voice proclaiming salvation didn’t come from the temple, or the city center, or politicians on the floor of Congress, or the world’s most reliable news network (Facebook)? The voice proclaiming the coming hope of the world came from the desert wilderness, echoing the prophet Isaiah:
‘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.'”
As a friend of ours wrote, “John is not only a voice crying to the wilderness—he’s a voice crying in the wilderness, from the wilderness.”So, this Sunday, we begin again, and as we begin, we’re drawn into the wilderness. We’re called into the present moment, to stand watch, to stay alert to the awe of salvation, the voice calling in the wilderness.
Can you hear it?