I am, but You are (Third Sunday in Advent)

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I am the snake.
A fateful look in the mirror – past the lipstick and mascara, beyond the shimmery earrings and pressed clothes – exposes the truth: I am the snake.
The snake that John so vehemently scorns and calls outs. Hearing his admonishment,I desperately attempt to slither from his sight, burrowing quietly in my den until it’s safe to come out.
But still he knows my blood runs cold through my veins; turning me callous and cunning.My cold-heartedness is poison to the garden, as my self-centered ways course through creation bringing sickness and death upon those whom I bite.
O Lord, what shall I do?

I am the stone.
Rough, hard, and unpolished.
I do not deserve favor like a diamond or possess raw beauty like a ruby. I am the stone, too often silent when the promise of Your birth should compel me to cry out to the world. And yet, here I lie, unwilling to be part of the sure foundation. Cast me into the sea and let me sink to the depths. Can you change my flint heart with your fire and make my heart alight
O Lord, what shall I do?

I am the tree.
Mangled, splintered, and rotten.
I’ve not basked in the sunlight you’ve granted, nor have I soaked up your sweet rains as they fell upon my soul. I bear nothing of consequence: my fruit is not sweet for eating and no one finds shelter beneath my branches. Take your ax tome and swiftly cut me down at my worthless roots. Toss me into the fire, burning every vermin from my diseased bark and hollowed core.
O Lord, what shall I do?

I am the tax-collector.
A hypocrite, an imposter, a freeloader.
I have assessed the sins of others, without taking account of my own. The consummate tallier of misdeeds, missteps, and petty slights… earning my worth on the backs of others. Anyone that has more than two coats must share with those who have less? Obviously, Jesus has never seen my pink jacket or my micro-puff North Face. How would I choose? I can hardly sleep at night because I know my wrongdoings are countless. Jesus should have nothing to do with me; he owes me nothing.
O Lord, what shall I do?

I am the soldier.
Brash, controlling, and violent.
I am human. I am violent. I am vengeful.
Innocent people have suffered on my watch, children have died senselessly and I have remained mute. The dice rolled in my favor and I hoarded security for myself by amassing fortresses, stockpiling food, and armoring my façade with might and mercenary. Put on the armor of God? Love, truth, righteousness, and faith – where will that get me?
And yet, where has this gotten me?
You have called me to attention.
O Lord, what shall I do?

What shall the snake, the stone, and the tree do?
What should the tax collector and solider do?
What shall we do?
We have no right to ask, but our souls are laden with expectancy, desperation, hoping.

We are the ones who needs washed.
You have stripped us naked with need and desire.
Bathe us with your forgiveness, we pray. Rinse our hypocrisy, apathy, vanity,and fear from our hearts.
Baptize us, wash us with delight. Let it fall fresh on our flesh.
O Lord, You are holiness and water.

We are the ones who need refined.
Burn the chaff enclosing our hearts, consume and devour the shell encasing it.  
Scorch our lips with generous words, sear our hearts with lavish love, enflame the ashes of our lives. May embers long since dead begin to flicker with your light.
O Lord, You are flame and fire.

We are the ones who are gasping and gulping, suffocating under the weight of life. Blow through our dry and desolate souls, enlivening us with your Spirit. Fall upon our ears as a whisper of newness and rush into the marrow of our bones releasing us from this asphyxiation. Let us take You in cleanly, making space for your Spirit to move. And breathe You out, energizing the universe.
O Lord, You are breath and wind.

We are the ones for whom He is coming. We are the ones for whom He was born.
Radiantly illuminating our paths in ways we cannot know.
Coming to us in small, unexpected ways reminding us that we are infinitely dear to God.
He draws us to our knees as joy enters the world enfleshed
And flings open the doors of eternity.
O Lord, come as fire, as water, as flame, as breath.
Come as an infant child at the breast.