80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
When I was a boy I loved detective movies. One of the features
of these movies was that the agent was usually “undercover.” Thus you
had to watch the movie carefully to see whom the detective actually was.
Often the detective would wear something so that he/she could be recognized,
usually a white carnation. I guess those were low budget movies!
The point of these movies was to figure out who the detective was as well
as “who done it.”
Today’s readings and the season of Advent itself are about waiting and recognition.
How could anyone not recognize Elijah? Fiery chariot (I had an old car
like that), words a flaming furnace, and the ability to close up the heavens!
Nothing like a great entrance and exit!
But Elijah had left in his chariot and all were waiting for his return to
herald the coming of the Messiah. Elijah promised to return however
and begin the healing of the nations so needed at this time.
Jesus points out that Elijah had returned in spirit in the person of John
the Baptist. But some people did not recognize him and rather than welcome
him, they destroyed him. Jesus then predicts that the same thing will
happen to him.
But it is precisely in that suffering and death that the promise of redemption
is kept—in Christ’s obedience and his own waiting and recognizing the will
of the Father.
I’m not sure I would recognize John the Baptist or Jesus—maybe if they wore
carnations I would!
But Advent is the time when we again wait and watch—watch for Elijah, for
angels, for the star and for the Savior of the world. But Jesus came
disguised as a poor child not as was expected as a mighty king. Thus
He was recognized only by the most observant.
We must be those observant ones! Read the scripture! Sit quietly!
And look for the Savior in the most unlikely places—in the poor, in our relatives,
A few days ago I returned to the Pine Ridge Reservation for the funeral
of my brother by adoption. Many people at the wake and funeral had
not seen me in a long time. While age has been generally kind to me,
there is a lot more of me now than when I lived there some 12 years ago.
Some people at the wake did not recognize me until I spoke! When that
happened I could see a definite change. They would “light up” and hug
me and cry or laugh. Before that they would be rather distant trying
to figure who this stranger was. Then they would tease me. I KNEW
I was home.
This is the season again to wait and watch—to see where Elijah will appear,
to recognize again Christ in one another—and it’s the time for conversion
and change through that recognition.
Just watch for those white carnations, or those people you just
THINK you might recognize!