It has been a few months ago now, but this Sunday’s Gospel lesson has me reflecting on a conversation we had at the real-life Draughting Theology for the Feast of Vida Dutton Scudder. Ms. Scudder is remembered on October 10th, an this year that put us less than 30 days away from a hotly contested Presidential election between what their detractors called “A Bleeding-heart Muslim Socialist” on one side and “A Greedy Fat Cat Capitalist” on the other. Of course, neither candidate is the monster that the PAC attack adds created them to be, but in early October, as we gathered for a beer and a chat about God, politics and noted Christian socialist, Vida Dutton Scudder, it made for lively conversation.
What I recall most vividly was the near agreement, around the table and across the political spectrum that being a disciple of Jesus required generosity, i.e. “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise,” but that that generosity should be Spirit-lead rather than government-mandated.
Dear reader, you may or may not agree with the above paragraph, and quite frankly, I don’t care. What I appreciate about where we landed on the issue was the generosity of spirit that brought us to that place. I bring it up as I start to prepare to preach on Advent 3 this year because I wonder, 2 months later, on the other side of the election, if we can still approach this difficult word from John the Baptist with the same sort of grace. I also wonder, if in our hyper-politically-charged world, if we are even able to hear JBap’s message of preparation for the Kingdom of God, or if when we hear these things, no matter what side of the aisle we’re on, and immediately go into “its an attack ad, shut your brain off” mode? Can we be challenged by the radical nature of JBap’s message this week, or are we just so tired of it all that we ignore it: something we do, very much, to our peril.
The vast majority of us, as 21st century Americans, probably fall into John’s brood of vipers. I wonder, or perhaps better said, I hope, that we can hear the message of salvation in between the lines.