Two men were walking down the railroad tracks one day. At first they shared conversation, then later fell into their own thoughts as they each silently pondered their lives.

The taller of the two men walked a bit faster than the other, and was soon a considerable distance ahead. Neither of them realized the distance that was now between them; it didn’t matter, since they were each involved in their own thoughts.

The taller man happened to look back to see where the other man was. Just then, he saw a train coming up behind them. He yelled back to the other man, “Look out for the train!” The other man replied, “What?!?!”

Again, the taller man yelled, “LOOK OUT FOR THE TRAIN!!!” The other man yelled back, “What? I can’t hear you over the train!” Often our busy lives are so cluttered with noise that we can’t hear the Lord, and if we live that way long enough, we won’t even hear the noise anymore.

At Luke 3:1-14, John the Baptist is beginning his ministry of preparing the way of the Lord. I imagine John as being loud and hard to miss. The story goes on to describe how crowds of people were coming from all around to hear John preach and to be baptized for the remission of sin.

The story does not tell us that the religious leaders understood or liked John, but the people did. The idea of freedom is always a popular message with real people, but not always popular with the authorities (Matthew 3:7-10).

In this time of global uncertainty, let us remember: “Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low, the crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways made smooth, and all [humankind] will see God’s salvation” (Luke 3:5-6, NRSV).

With so much violence, hatred, greed, and numerous other troubles plaguing humankind, the noise can be unbearable. “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28, NRSV).

In these noisy times of trouble, let us remember: “Therefore, brothers [and sisters], since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:19-25, NRSV).

Blessings and Peace to you,

Fr. David+

Rev. Dr. David Bridges is the pastor at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Grove. He can be reached at frdavid@standrewsgrove.org.