Dearly Beloved,

         Bear fruits worthy of repentance.
         … Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none;
         and whoever has food must do likewise.
         One who is more powerful than I is coming.
         … He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
                          —Luke 3.8, 11, 16

Christmas is not all lovely tinsel-haired angels and shepherds in their cute bathrobes and a sweet little baby, no crying he makes. Luke’s sure of that. Christmas is the coming of the Prince of Peace, whose empire will have no end… which means, of course that our empire will come to an end. The changes he describes in people’s lives are not just issues of piety or personal morality. They are issues of justice. The scriptures and the carols of the season are thick with God’s care for the poor, God’s desire to set prisoners free and lift up the downtrodden and bring down the mighty and wrest power from oppressors and remodel the world.

“Preparing the way” is more than having a warm spot in your heart. The One who is coming is the Prince of Peace, the sovereign of justice among us. He has a claim on us. He places demands of his realm upon us. We are responsible for our world, for poverty and racism and violence and the harming of the earth. We are responsible for justice, for healing and reconciliation and redemption. There is nothing more true to the heart of Christmas than doing justice.

This Advent and Christmas, visit someone in prison. Participate in a Jericho Walk. Reach out to immigrants. Write to your Senator or representative. The child Jesus and his parents are waiting outside the wall. Prepare him a way. Repent, and bear the fruits of justice.

   —December 11, 2018

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