Shall . . . Will . . . Decrease

Expectations often get in the way. Sometimes expectations derive from inward impulses. On other occasions we feel the weight of others’ dreams for us. John knew the Isaiah passage. He was aware of the Psalm. Each of these familiar texts may well have contributed to his insistence a new way would dawn when Messiah would come. Hope in the “shall” and the “will” lie in back of his challenge in the wilderness, “Repent.” Life in the Kingdom calls all to live in the hopeful future these texts promised.

But even John may have doubted his own expectations. After all, the hope that drove his call to repent took a hit when he found himself in prison. It could not have been lost on him that for a time he was on the “increase.” Crowds “went out to him.” Many were baptized. He stood to challenge the religious leadership who placed great weights on the people of their day. What does the picture of the Matthew text have to do with the reference in John that “he must increase, but I must decrease?”

John surely did not think his “decrease” would come in a prison cell. After all, he had the Isaiah passage stirring his expectations. The “shalls” and the “wills” prompted a much different picture. But decrease John must. And, in order to fill out the Way of the Kingdom we too must decrease. Jesus’ may be heard saying, “If any one would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me daily,” “Decrease” is at least a perspective, if not an experience.

Entering the third week of Advent we are still waiting. Our expectations may well keep us from seeing our own need to decrease so we may find the Way of Jesus the expression of our own living. And, in that decrease we become able to see others “increase” in our vision so we may express our love for God in love for our neighbor.

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Jesus invites people into his life and his way. He takes what is and points to the new way of the Kingdom of God.  Come see what this journey is all about!

One way to think about the mission of Jesus - He calls into question the way things are and points to the way things may be in the Kingdom of God. 

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