I asked our fifth grader this morning if she knew why December 7 is a day “which will live in infamy.” She asked, “What is ‘infamy.’” I said, “Something remembered for a very bad thing that happened.” She said, “Well, I don’t want to have a bad day.” I told her that not every December 7 is a bad day, but it’s a day to remember because it’s the day that the Japanese shocked the world by attacking Pearl Harbor.
It's been a week of reflecting on our nation and those who have served it and led it. President Bush’s death has raised both of those before us. We’ve been reminded of his statesmanship, as well as his most famous moments. I’m very glad to have heard, “kinder, gentler nation” at least as often as, “Read my lips: no new taxes.”
My favorite new description of President Bush came from former Senator Alan Simpson who described him as “A man of such great humility…those who travel the high road of humility in Washington, D.C., are not bothered by heavy traffic.” So true, and not just of Washington, D.C.
Our gospel reading for this Sunday draws our attention to roads and humility. Luke 3:1-6 quotes Isaiah 40:3-5. John the Baptizer is calling us to prepare for the coming of the Lord. There’s hard work to be done and the humble are the most likely to do it. The hard work is to labor for the Lord, but also to repent. To be unwilling to give of ourselves to prepare for the King’s arrival or to acknowledge our imperfection and the particular sins that need confessing and the ways of living that need changing is to be on a different road than “the high road of humility.” To think we have nothing to do and nothing from which to repent is to wander around in the high-traffic areas of self-interest and self-delusion. John the Baptizer invites us to something more. This Sunday would be another great day to accept his invitation.