Second Sunday of Advent
Today Is the Day!
Today is the day! The words of John “the Baptizer” from today’s Gospel text, Matthew 3:1–12, are being lived out. In The Message translation of the Bible, Eugene Peterson conveys the essence of John’s prophetic message in verse 2: “Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.”
God’s kingdom is now. It will find its culmination in the next life, but it is also happening every day. “God’s kingdom” refers to what happens in our lives when God’s purposes are fulfilled. When God’s intentions for us are being lived out. Jesus would make the present reality of God’s kingdom clear when he, like John the Baptist, taught his followers to pray. Jesus would teach them to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 NIV).
We are called in this present moment to experience patient expectation as we move toward the day of Jesus’ birth. Patience—to cherish each hour. Expectation—to heighten our awareness that Advent is a season of transformation.
I saw this frequently when serving as pastor of a residential addictions recovery community. Men and women there often saw themselves as largely worthless and unforgivable. A major challenge was to alert them to the wonder of the nearness and present reality of God’s infinite, forgiving, and transforming love. Grasping that truth was life-changing for many. This is our invitation this day of Advent 2022.
Peterson’s translation of verses 11 and 12 shows Jesus clearly as an agent of change. He “will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned” (The Message).
This is happening today. God is changing us as we wait in patient expectation. God’s kingdom is here!
Jeff Coppage, interim pastor, Union Cross Moravian Church
Winston-Salem, North Carolina