Last week in our Advent reading we were told to prepare the way of the Lord. This week, John goes further, telling us in Luke 3:8 to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
John refers to the entire crowd as a ‘brood of vipers’; neither gently nor patiently, he points out the crowd’s hypocritical and self-righteous ways. His message is clear: your association with a great and powerful religion is not enough. Faith in the right object, the case for most of the crowd standing before John, is not enough. This faith must produce action.
John goes on, this time with grace and patience, and talks about what kinds of fruit are produced when our faith is in keeping with repentance. He makes a connection for the crowd between economic issues, social injustices, and spiritual issues: Do you own two shirts? You have more than you need. Do you have food? Give some away. If you make money at the expense of others (e.g. tax collectors), don’t take more than the minimum. Be content with your wages.
Where are we seeing fruit in our work with Araminta?
Recently, a woman who has a ministry to victims of child sex trafficking told Araminta staff, “There is something different about every survivor I work with who receives services from Araminta; they have HOPE in their eyes.”
This hope results in part from the prayers, the tangible acts of kindness, the daily sacrifices of each volunteer effort on behalf of the survivors we serve. Hope matters!
One of our mentees recently expressed the following gratitude for Araminta:
What I am thankful for with Araminta is that I have people who care. People are there no matter what. You at Araminta stay, and you are still here.
You care and you stay – actions that speak volumes to those whose relationships have too often been marked by exploitation and neglect.
While we serve in an area where one can easily get overwhelmed with the darkness, the words and picture of John the Baptist offer us a perspective on the source of our staying power and the reality of our mission.
Christmas morning comes with a blessing – New Life – and with a privileged burden to produce fruit. We see in our daily interactions that evidence of the New Life of Christmas morning making a difference in the reality of the lives of the survivors we serve. We see it in each of our mentor / mentee pairs and in the women we have helped move into their first homes.
Ultimately, the message John preached was one of freedom: we who have been given the gift of New Life are motivated to share what we have. No longer motivated by greed and the law, we are to freely give what we have freely received. (Mt. 10:8) This is what we witness in the working out of the mission and vision of Araminta: manifestations of Grace and Hope and New Life.
In that day you will say:
“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.” (Isaiah 12:4)