Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The voice of one crying in the wilderness....

I used to think I had a romantic soul. I don't. I have an imaginative soul. I can get all caught up in a moment, in the ideal of a moment...bu romantic? No. Romance implies, I believe, a commitment on my part to relate to a moment, a person or an event in a more intimate way than I am often willing to accept. Part of that is fear. It is easier to observe, perhaps avoid, than it is to invest and risk. Romance does imply risk. It attaches weight, surrenders impartiality. Observation is safe. It prevents risk. Romance demands involvement.

So, I avoid romance...much to the loss of people around me that I care about. I offer gestures to my wife, my family and friends...but too often I hold pieces of myself back, and the result is either a broken relationship or unmet expectations. I realize that is my attempt to hide...to be a face in the crowd. Odd that, when most of who and what I am rejoices and yearns to be out front, up on the podium and attempting to be "large and in charge" of the scene. My sympathies for those a frustrate and disappoint. Truly, and my apologies...

But, that is the starting place for my journey today. I still remember the first moment when I heard a shofar blow...when that joyous, piercing note nigh-on-to shattered my eardrums. It was in a rabbi's office in my hometown. I was seeing him for spiritual direction, and he had it on his desk (practicing for the High Holy Days at his synagogue). I asked him what it sounded like...and he put it to his lips and blew the signature "blast" to herald the New Year.

My God.

I heard something that day. I heard the voice of one crying in the wilderness. I had a brief little vision, a romantic one, no less, of someone standing on a hilltop in a barren waste. The sound of the horn was either a beckoning, or a signal, to one who was still at a distance. At once, it said, "Over here!" and, "Make WAY!"

That stirred my blood and made me think of ancient things...promises made to us as humans that God would be here and right soon. God is coming to us, and that shofar was sounding God's fanfare.

Whenever I hear that bit of scripture, when John enters from "stage right" and begins to speak I hear that same shofar sounding its note. It is both terrifying and exciting, to think that THIS ONE who is about to speak is testifying that all that has been promised is about to be delivered. All of it, in one person...here, and now.

I could almost take the risk and attempt to embrace a more romantic posture toward life.

But then, he opens his mouth and starts to preach....

"You brood of vipers....."

OK, back into my shell. I don't know if I want to hear this....

John is here not only to offer testimony to the light that is coming into the world. He is also a sign that there is work to do on our part to prepare for the Advent of the One Who is to Come. His counsel, in Luke this coming Sunday, is direct and particular...and aimed at each of us right between the eyes. For people who have food, clothing and shelter....share it with those who do not. For tax collectors, take only what is proscribed. For soldiers, don't use your power to extort, terrorize and abuse. For us....take note. God is not just asking us to generally be ready to experience the Incarnation. We are being given a specific charge and a challenge to respond. Here. Now.

The Good News of God's promises being fulfilled is not just something we can sit back and observe from a safe distance. It is not something we can discount as a romantic notion, a pretty poem...and "good" idea. It is a life-changing, creation-altering moment. We cannot and will not ever be the same again.

What does that mean for us today? It means that we get today to make choices, to take and commit to action in response to the Gospel of Jesus. John is, quite literally, watching over our shoulders. Our charge is to act with honesty, integrity and humility. To do the things Christ would have us do to the people we have been given to serve. No soft lights. No easy-outs. Embracing the light of the love of the Son of God means being willing to have our shadows (and our hiding places from God's gaze) dispelled. God's light is 360-degrees of truth...God's love travels beyond romantic notions....

I shrink from romantic gestures...I pull away from honest action....and John is still there with his challenging eyes and a voice that grates against my soul like the notes of the shofar....

Sleeper, WAKE!

1 comment:

  1. For more information about Holy Temple instruments.

    We have three websites

    1) Shofar Sounders WebPage

    http://shofar221.com

    2) Joint Effort with Michael Chusid,an expert Shofar sounder and commentator

    http://www.hearingshofar.com
    3) Shofar WebPage
    http://shofar-sounders.com
    If you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to ask.

    Art Finkle and Michael Chusid
    Shofar19067@hotmail.com & michael@chusid.com

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