Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor
National Geographic has debuted a TV show recently called “Doomsday Preppers.” These are folks in our midst, everyday folks, that have started taking preparedness to the extreme. The first show featured a retired couple who has built a home out of nine 40-foot steel shipping containers assembled for maximum security and durability. This couple also prepares and stores five extra meals a day. They have stored up enough food to feed 22 people for 15 years. Their home is equipped with alternative fuel and energy sources if they should be cut from city sources. Finally, they have an evacuation plan with a stored vehicle just in case they need to get out of their home. At the end of the show, each “prepper” is given a score from expert “practical preppers” to see just how they would actually do in the disaster they are preparing for. National Geographic even gives an estimate on just how likely that disaster would be. So far, this show is scheduled for its third season.
When we start to talk about “preparedness” today our minds might start to wander in this direction. Especially during this time of storms and wars, we might start to put things away “just in case.” Being prepared has been shown as being the act of squirreling away provisions and putting in extra precautions in security.
As we read these scriptures for our second Sunday of Advent, we might start to think along those terms in preparation. It is time to rethink. For Malachi and John the Baptist, it is time to prepare in different ways. Malachi calls out for a new way of organizing and prepping by naming a new kind of messenger, one that will unite rather than divide. Enter John the Baptist. In the midst of naming off rulers, in government and religious life, our writer Luke calls out for preparation with those who are suffering. John the Baptist calls out for community and justice rather than hiding away or saving for oneself. He preps the way for a new prince of peace.
During this season, we are called to prepare for God to come near. While the world, may strike us with fear to be urgent about hoarding away, this new leader calls us to go to our neighbor’s aide. We should be prepping in love and community rather than in stockpiling and cultivating violence. While there is suffering around us, we should be prepping for God to come to earth in the form of a newborn who will grow into the one calling us to a new revolution, a new way of life, a new covenant with one another. The world has not changed so much, so we should still prepare for God to catch us by surprise and turn the world upside down.
Quotes for the Week
“The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck.” – Tony Robbins
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” ― Mother Teresa
“If you believe you can accomplish everything by “cramming” at the eleventh hour, by all means, don’t lift a finger now. But you may think twice about beginning to build your ark once it has already started raining”
― Max Brooks, The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead
“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” – Jane Addams
“I want to volunteer for global flood relief without abandoning my mountaintop, so I’m making a really long straw. Preparation is everything.” ― Benson Bruno
Malachi 3:1-4 (NRSV) See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.
Luke 3:1-6 (NRSV)
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
Questions for the Week
How will you prepare this season?
Who is the messenger in our midst telling us that God is coming near?
How might you rethink preparedness?