Babies are born impatient. They want to be fed, comforted, and cared for immediately. And that is just as it should be.

We learn over time how to stand by, how to set our immediate needs aside - at least for a time - and wait for what we hope will come.

Learn now the patience that is necessary for your eventual good. God knows your needs, because God knows you.

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But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Matthew 3:7-10

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Privilege. It means you’ve been given an advantage over others. John the Baptist had no patience for people who thought they were special because of who their family was or what they did for a living. The “brood of vipers” phrase is a bad one – sneaky, manipulative, evil. Those are the images associated with snakes in the Bible. Not a nice thing to call someone.

But not all Pharisees were bad; remember Nicodemus? Having privilege is not a bad thing in itself. It is what we do with the hand we are dealt that matters. John welcomed all to the river to be baptized, but he gave a warning to those who thought they were better than others. Remember, a life on the Way with Jesus always faces repentance. We all arrive at the river with our share of “viperness.” We rejoice together that God offers new beginnings to all.

Erika Funk

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God of grace and God of mercy, let me see the ways I take advantage when I do not deserve to do so. Help me to see how privilege might get in the way of my discipleship. Amen.

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We're waiting for a revolution;
Waiting for the impossible.

We're waiting for change,
For the coming of the One.

We're waiting to be told, "Yes,"
To be included.

Go with hope that,
Whatever you are waiting for,
God will answer
The prayer of your heart.

Erika Funk

Erika Funk is a pastor in the Presbyterian Church USA, currently serving at Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She created the Youth Initiative there, which invites young people to go deeper spiritually and theologically into mission. Erika finds God's peace in teenagers who ask a lot of questions, cups of tea, and the ocean.


Jim Morgan

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