The Rev. Dr. Valerie Miles-Tribble, Associate Professor, Ministerial Leadership & Practical Theology, American Baptist Seminary of the West
Sweet Little Jesus Boy (We Didn’t Know Who You Were)
31 “To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.’
33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; 34 the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” (New Revised Standard Version – NRSV)
Jesus looked upon the humanity of the crowd that stood or sat before him, some eager to learn and others still doubting that what some proclaimed – Emmanuel (“God who will come”) – was the one who dwelled among them, teaching and healing. When Jesus looked upon them with love yet knowing that the world did not know who He truly was, perhaps his words recorded in Luke remind us to seek for the truth and take stock of the goodness in one another rather than place so much emphasis on rituals and rules.
In 2018, in a world of societal divisions, the religious fervor of Christmas must also amplify the prophetic teaching of Jesus to love the Lord God before all else and to love each other as neighbors. What is it I hope that Jesus could see? People that realize the words of John the Baptist proclaiming the coming of the LORD still ring true.
I hope we realize the urban poor, the hopeful immigrants, the black and brown bodies, all targeted by “otherness,” are nevertheless found worthy of love in the sight of God. Such is the promise proclaimed by the prophet Isaiah of one who would come to judge the poor with righteousness and with equity for the meek of the earth. (Is 11:1-9, NRSV). Such is the promise of the Gospels proclaiming that God is with us. This Advent, may we live into that promise with love toward one another.
May you open our eyes that we might see you, O God, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.