"The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
Ministry of John the Baptist
3 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the desert of Judea announcing, 2 “ Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven! ” 3 He was the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke when he said:
4 John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey.
5 People from Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and all around the Jordan River came to him. 6 As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. 7 Many Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by John. He said to them, “ You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? 8 Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. 9 And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire. 11 I baptize with water those of you who have changed your hearts and lives. The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 The shovel he uses to sift the wheat from the husks is in his hands. He will clean out his threshing area and bring the wheat into his barn. But he will burn the husks with a fire that can’t be put out. ”
Respected author and theologian Walter Brueggemann turns his discerning eye to the most critical yet basic needs of a world adapting to a new era, an era defined in large part by America’s efforts to rebuild from an age of terror even as it navigates its way through an economic collapse. Yet in spite of these great challenges, Brueggemann calls us to journey together to the common good through neighborliness, covenanting, and reconstruction. Such a concept may seem overwhelming, but writing with his usual theological acumen and social awareness Brueggemann distills this challenge to its most basic issues: Where is the church going? What is its role in contemporary society? What lessons does it have to offer a world enmeshed in such turbulent times?
The answer is the same answer God gave to the Israelites thousands of years ago: Love your neighbor and work for the common good. Brueggemann considers biblical texts as examples of the journey now required of the faithful if they wish to move from isolation and distrust to a practice of neighborliness, as an invitation to a radical choice for life or for death, and as a reliable script for overcoming contemporary problems of loss and restoration in a failed urban economy.