“Let’s see if I’ve got my Christmas to-do list done:”

  • Put up the Christmas tree — check.
  • Bought Christmas presents — check.
  • Hung stockings with care — check.
  • Grandchildren visit Santa — check.
  • Watched Miracle on 34th Street — 4 times — check.
  • Heard, “Grandma Got Run Over –” 400 times — Ecch! check.
  • Confess and repent of my sins – what? 

“Confess and Repent?” What a depressing way to think about Christmas. Aren’t those terms outdated? Today we prefer: Codependency, Dysfunctional, Fetish, Psychosis, Neurosis and other fancy sounding names. Why go back in time? Yet every year during Christmas and Easter, pastors talk about a prophet named John the Baptist and his emphasis on confession and repentance. Why?

Not the Christmas message you want to hear. Right? Don’t lose hope; there is an uplifting ending.

In each of the four Gospels in the Bible, there is John the Baptist, the animal skin clad, bug-eating prophet who proclaimed himself as,  “A voice shouting in the wilderness; ‘Prepare a pathway for the Lord’s coming! Make a straight road for Him!’” (Luke 3:4)

His next statement however should get your attention: “You ungrateful pile of snakes! Don’t just talk about being a follower of God, do something about it!”That’s pretty strong language. Wait! There is more! “Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised ready to sever your roots. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.” (From Luke 3:7-9)

Just in case you missed what he was saying:

  • You ungrateful pile of snakes!
  • Don’t just talk, do something!
  • God’s judgment is poised like an ax!
  • Every tree not producing fruit will be chopped down and burned!

Ouch! No wonder John the Baptist was beheaded. But he is right. We need to hear the voice in the wilderness crying out to: “Prepare a pathway!” which describes three basic tenets of our faith:

  1. Sin: is anything that separates us from God. We all sin so fess up.
  2. Confession: is the courage to admit we are flawed and need help.
  3. Repentance is asking God to change us.

We believe in Christ but we seldom translate belief into action. There is as much dishonesty and unethical behavior within the church as anywhere else. When surveyed, people described religion as a balm for overcoming depression rather than a call for serious change. Yet the voice of John the Baptist rings loud and clear: “Don’t just talk; do something!”

The crowd responded to John the Baptist by asking, “What do we do?” (Luke 3:10-14)

He responded:

  • Share: Not just with your family but anyone in need. Give some of your blessings away. Learning to give is not just putting more money in the offering plate; it’s a foundation of your faith.
  • Play Fair: Be honest in your relationship with others! Employers treat workers with genuine respect! Employees earn your pay! Take a stand for what is right but with an attitude of love.
  • Be Content: We all want to be successful, but God often has different ideas on what success really means. It may be time to ask: “Am I where God wants me to be?”  

Now What? Does your Christmas list include an old-fashioned straight talk with God about your sinful behavior? Yes, we do need face our sinful practices.

Here is the Good News! Are you ready?

God listens, forgives and enables you to change. The “Good News” is about listening to John the Baptist now so you better appreciate what happens next. “Prepare a pathway for the Lord’s coming!”

So – How is your Christmas to-do list coming?