When I was a kid, I was always confused about “wrong way” signs. How did they know where we were going? Thankfully, when I got older, I learned this sign was not mysteriously creeping on our whereabouts but preventing us from going against the flow of traffic on a one way road. The same is true with “no right turn” signs. They are placed to warn drivers headed in the wrong direction to turn around and prevent a collision and potential disaster.
Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, devoted his entire life (and diet) to similar words of warning. “Turn around,” he said with fervor and persistence as he dunked person after person in the Jordan. John’s message was one of turning, a reorientation away from the exploitive practices of empire entangled with religion and towards new visions of justice, equity, and fairness (Luke 3:10-14). This Way was fully embodied in Immanuel, who would also enter into the sacred waters of turning.
In other words, if John were to be in charge of #Advent worship liturgy, he would likely select the “Canticle of Turning,” a verse each of us needs these days as much as he did in his:
From the halls of power to the fortress tower, not a stone will be left on stone. Let the king beware for your justice tears ev'ry tyrant from his throne. The hungry poor shall weep no more, for the food they can never earn; There are tables spread, ev'ry mouth be fed, for the world is about to turn.
My heart shall sing of the day you bring. Let the fires of your justice burn. Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near, and the world is about to turn!