"John’s shocking immigration policy" - December 9, 2012 - Robin Wardlaw
Advent 2, Year C
Readings: Malachi 3:1–4; Luke 1:68–79; Luke 3:1–6
Have you heard, some guy called John is in the boonies yelling, “Everybody into the pool,” something like that. John has seen the light. He has got religion. He has drunk the kool aid. John claims to know his history. John says words mean what they mean. He thinks a covenant is a...a binding contract. He’s crazy. Obviously. All wet. Oh, good one. All wet, get it?
Our ancestors had to go through the Jordan River to get into this country. Everybody knows that. We hear about at synagogue enough. It was a big deal, then. Now John has this wacky idea. He thinks we should go out there and go through it again. All of us. I mean, get real. The Jordan is important, in the past. Sure, sure, that where the people stopped and Moses gave them the law. And I know, he laid it all out: “Be holy,” in the land you are going to inherit, “keep the covenant,” “remember the way God led you in the wilderness,” “don’t say it was because of your righteousness or their wickedness that God is driving them out of Canaan,” “don’t be stubborn,” “store these words of mine in your heart,” and so on and so on. Heard it all. (Deuteronomy 7 - 11, various verses, paraphrased.)
But that was a thousand years ago. Ancient history. This is the modern day. And John wants us to go back to hides and honey? Get with the program, wild man. We’ve got businesses to run, Romans to keep happy, interest to collect, land to assemble, and pesky poor people to get out of the way of our plans. They are just as loopy as he is, crying, “Justice, justice.” This is progress. You can’t stop it. It may not be perfect, but the big injustice would be to get in the way of industry, profits, trade deals. It’s about rationalization. All these little farmers and fishers, these micro-businesses–they aren’t efficient.
Repent. The nerve. He’s telling me to repent? He should repent of his crazy accusations. A brood of vipers. How dare he? Is that all he’s got? Names? Stupid sermons? Forget about him. Go out to the Jordan and get dipped? What an idea.
I mean that would be like saying I was an immigrant. Like I had to go through the water to get in. Where does he get the nerve? You know what that is? That’s a mean, small-minded, wanna be immigration policy, that’s what that is. Shocking. It’s shocking. That I, I should have to go there and wade in the water as if I were entering the country. For the first time? My people have been here since Moses came here. No, wait. Moses didn’t cross the river. It was, uh, Joshua, right, Joshua and Miriam. Anyway, never mind about that. My great, great, great...something or other did that. God gave the land. We are in. We belong here. No. It belongs, to me. To us. Get used to it, holy man.
Look around. Our family’s name is on half the businesses and properties in this neighbourhood. If anybody belongs here, it’s us. John BarZechariah? Who is he? Who is his old man? My dad told me all about them. Zechariah stood around the temple. Big deal. A minor functionary. What did he do for the economy? My old man was busting a gut to build something, and Zechariah is waiting around for the messiah or something. Give me a break.
I could talk to you about immigrants. Oh, yes. I’ve got lots of thoughts about those people. Wandering in here, thinking they can just help themselves. Not respecting the people who are already here, all we’ve done, to build up all...this. I’ve got some of them working on my latest project. Local labour’s ’way too expensive. Oh, ya, I could go on about immigrants. No loyalty, for one thing. Take off after some other job at the drop of a hat.
But this John guy has the gall to tell me, us, that we should come to him and “bear fruits that bear repentance.” (Luke 3:8) In your dreams, buddy. He is talking as if race didn’t matter. I do, we do have Abraham as our father. Suddenly that’s not worth anything. God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Oh, really? He’s a traitor, is what he is. You know what, he’s dangerous. Oh, sorry. I get this pain sometimes when I’m thinking about this idiot. Down my arm. It’s OK now. I’m fine. Nothing wrong with me.
You know what? He’s not dangerous, he’s simple. That’s it. He just doesn’t get what it takes to run something, whether it’s a business or a country. Compromises have to be made. A few eggs get broken to make an omelet. It’s for the greater good. That’s what he doesn’t get. Those rules Moses dragged down the hill are good. They make sense, most of them. There has to be order. There has to be law. People can’t just do whatever they want.
What irks me, though, is that he’s stirring people up. I hear there’s a regular procession out there to the river. Riff raff. Nothing better to do. He’s getting them all excited with his talk. He could start another uprising against the Romans if he’s not careful. If we’re not careful. You can’t go back. Facts are facts. I’ve got deeds to everything. It’s all legal. Ridiculous. You can’t start a country over again. But that’s what he’s got people thinking. He’s a radical, that’s what he is. I’m just a messenger, he says. Another is coming. Great. Just what we need is talk about messiah. Two of them running around putting thoughts in people’s heads. What we need is for people to get their heads out of the clouds with this justice stuff. Pay your debts. That would be justice. Do an honest day’s work for what I can afford to pay you.
Stirring things up. My brother-in-law tells me things. Scary things. But there are some plans, too. We can’t let this go on. And we won’t. Wheels are in motion, he tells me. We’ll get the word to the right person at the palace. Treason, for one. Agitating the populace, for another. The holidays are coming up, when we celebrate our freedom, and how God was able to grow something great from something so small. Not the right time to deal with this guy. Go to the river and act all humble. Not me. Not now. I’ve got things to do. A business like mine doesn’t run itself. Just be careful who you listen to is all I’ve got to say.
This John guy is history. People will be celebrating what I’ve been able to accomplish long after this kook is forgotten. All wet. I’ve got to remember to tell my brother-in-law that one.