If Isaiah offers the promise of what God intends, in this powerful text from Matthew’s Gospel, we hear the message of John the Baptist, whom God sent into the world to prepare the way for the Lord, to make the pathways straight, to get things ready for the coming of the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and Fire. For John, this call to prepare the way and make the paths straight is accomplished through a baptism of repentance – that call to change one’s life in the pursuit of God’s design. Matthew’s portrayal of John’s ministry includes a word towards the religious establishment, reminding them that they should bear fruit worthy of their repentance. Of course, you may be joining me in wondering why members of the religious elite would even bother to be baptized by John. Matthew doesn’t give us any explanation, but even if John is less than receptive, it suggests that even the elite seem to understand that things need to be upended. God is at work, changing things, clearing the threshing floor so that the wheat can be separated from the chaff, so that the chaff, that which keeps us from experiencing the fullness of God’s vision. The chaff may be burnt away, but what remains is God’s glorious intention for the creation. Peace on earth, good will to all!