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December 04, 2022*
(2nd Sunday of Advent)
By Pastor John Partridge
There is a movie series which originated in 2013 with a film entitled, The Purge. The premise of that movie, and of the entire series of movies, is that once each year, for a period of twelve hours, no crimes are against the law and the use of all weapons, other than explosives, are permitted. As you might expect, this causes significant death, destruction, and mayhem and is used by the government as a covert form of population control that also boosts the economy. And, if you ever watched Star Trek, the Original Series, you can’t help but notice that the premise of the movie is exactly the same as an episode from the first season called “The Return of the Archons.”
But what if I told you that the purge was real?
I don’t mean that we need to worry about a day when all crimes are legal. What I mean is that there will be purge where there is a housecleaning of all humanity. A day that God cleans house and purges from the planet every person that doesn’t measure up.
But what does that mean? John the Baptist explains it in Matthew 3:1-12 as he prepares for the arrival of Jesus.
3:1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
During this season of preparation, we are reminded that Jesus didn’t just come to love people and to save the world. Jesus’ coming is also a reminder that he will one day stand in judgement of all humanity. He will separate the wheat from the chaff, the useful from the useless, the fruitful from the fruitless. Posers and pretenders will be sifted out. Religious leaders who used the church to benefit themselves but who did nothing to grow the kingdom of God, will be sifted out. And anyone who doesn’t measure up will be burned in the fire like chaff.
John’s message is as much for us today as it was two thousand years ago.
Let us prepare the way for the Lord and make straight paths for him.
And the first, best, place for us to start, is to repent and make sure that we are straight paths. Let us do all that we can so that we are counted as wheat, and not chaff.
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*You have been reading a message presented at Christ United Methodist Church on the date noted at the top of the first page. Rev. John Partridge is the pastor at Christ UMC in Alliance, Ohio. Duplication of this message is a part of our Media ministry, if you have received a blessing in this way, we would love to hear from you. Letters and donations in support of the Media ministry or any of our other projects may be sent to Christ United Methodist Church, 470 East Broadway Street, Alliance, Ohio 44601. These messages are available to any interested persons regardless of membership. You may subscribe to these messages, in print or electronic formats, by writing to the address noted, or by contacting us at secretary@CUMCAlliance.org. These messages can also be found online at https://pastorpartridge.com . All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.comThe “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™