Sunday, September 18, 2011
Point Me in the Right Direction
John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
One of my favorite, must-see-repeatedly movies is "It's a Wonderful Life" starring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey and Donna Reed as Mary Hatch (and eventually) Bailey. Outside the house where George's brother's engagement party is in full swing, George stands with his mother who is attempting, in the way only mothers can, to talk her son into visiting Mary who "lights up like a firefly" any time George is around. George hems and haws, but finally gives in and asks his mother to "point him in the right direction". She gladly does so with a gentle, yet persuasive, shove; George starts out, reverses course much to his mother's chagrin, but eventually ends up at Mary's front gate after all. Thus begins one of the most comic and touchingly memorable love scene in the history of cinema. Yes, George's mother certainly pointed him in the right direction!
In today's scripture, John, the voice crying in the wilderness, is offering the baptism of repentance to all who come to him with sincere hearts, and advising them how to comport themselves in honor of that repentance. The people are impressed; they begin to speculate about whether or not John is the long-awaited Messiah. John, unhesitatingly, sets them straight. His role has been to prepare the way, to make the crooked paths straight, for the coming of the One whose sandals he declares he is unfit to untie. He has duly readied and ripened the crowds to receive the Messiah with glad and thankful hearts; he points them in the right direction, the direction of Jesus.
Did you attend church today? Was the saving grace of Christ at the center of your worship service? Were you pointed in the right direction?
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