“You brood of vipers!”
I had to practice that in the mirror to make sure I said it with suitable drama.
It is one of the great lines in the Bible, a thrust and a twist of the knife from the original fire and brimstone preacher himself, John the Baptist.
And if you ask any preacher if they haven’t fantasized about thundering that line from the pulpit themselves they are either A. lying, or B. catastrophically boring. Well, today was my chance. #ministrygoals.
I love John. John is brilliant because he cuts directly across the saccharine images of Advent and Christmas that saturate our culture today.
John does not coddle us with visions of a tender child in the manger, lambs sleeping sweetly in the stable, or even a serene and peaceful Blessed Virgin making her stately and elegant way toward Bethlehem with beautifully coiffed hair, clean skin, and unruffled robes.
John the Baptist is having none of it.
John’s Advent is rude, abrupt, and disorienting.
His primary message is, “Wake up, people! Your life is not working! You are going to rue the day if you don’t face up to the fact that God is about to rearrange your life completely. Something is coming that will change everything. Winnowing fork! Unquenchable fire! Holy Spirit! Brood of vipers!”
So while I love John for his passion and apocalyptic angst, I also fear and dread his words a bit.
I know I need his wake up call as much as if not more than anyone else.
After all, John’s main target in this text is the religious professionals, so my number is up.
But I’ll tell you the fascinating truth about John the Baptist.Continue reading