Locusts and Chocolate
“And as John was finishing his work, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but one is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of the sandals on his feet.'” – Acts 13:25
A non-Christian friend of mine registered a complaint last year. She had just found out that Advent does not begin in December, but usually on one of the last days of November.
“If that’s true,” she asked, “why does my chocolate Advent calendar start on December 1st? I am only getting 24 pieces of chocolate.”
“You’re being cheated,” I told her. She nodded sagely. I think she may have gone back to the store and demanded satisfaction.
Chocolate aside, there’s a lot that we miss out on during the Christmas season if we let the shopping malls and stores dictate our Christmas. Take, for instance, John the Baptist. He’s hardly a Christmas card-worthy character. The camel’s hair clothing. The locust-eating. The yelling in the wilderness.
And yet, John the Baptist’s story is intricately tied to the season of Advent, and the birth of Christ. He’s the one who shows us that something big is coming. He calls us to get ready for Christmas, not by sending out the cards and packages, or trimming the tree, but by preparing our hearts for love incarnate.
What I love about reading Scripture in Advent is that it calls me in. It reminds me that all the trappings of Christmas, which I love, are only signs of something better which is to come. It makes me slow down and get ready. It helps me not to miss the season because I am so caught up in preparations.
John the Baptist’s cries are a little different from opening the doors on an Advent calendar, but what they are calling us to is even sweeter than what we might find inside.
Dear God, help me to open my heart up to you this Advent, and help me to prepare the way for your love incarnate.
Emily C. Heath is the Senior Pastor of the Congregational Church in Exeter, New Hampshire, and the author of Glorify: Reclaiming the Heart of Progressive Christianity.