Scripture Reading: Matthew 3:1-12
‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’ –Matthew 3:11-12
An older woman with whom I once worked suffered discrimination from her supervisor, a man who essentially supported having women do the work, and his getting credit and pay for it. I once said to her about a specific situation, “That is not right.” She replied “There is nothing I can do about it now, but he will face God one day about all he does.” I do believe we are and will be held accountable for both what we do and what we do not do, sins of commission and sins of omission.
Our scripture today may address final judgment, but it also deals with daily cleansing. We all, over time, pick up the clutter of the world and need the Holy Spirit to winnow our lives enabling us to be as whole as possible so we can contribute our fair share of love and service to the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. I grew up in the days of combines, but I understand the principle being illustrated in our scripture today. Wheat, for that matter all grains, is denser and heavier than the chaff that protected is as it developed. At grain harvesting, the chaff is separated from the grain as it no longer serves a purpose. Humans create filters of protection that sometimes are needed and good but after the threat is gone are no longer necessary. We also may create such filters from misperceptions of reality. These filters can inhibit our wholeness when we hold to them unnecessarily.
As we continue to examine ourselves during Advent, let us open ourselves to the winnowing of the Holy Spirit. What inhibitors do we need to release? What do we need to curtail in our behavior?
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting*. Amen.
All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.