I read somewhere that scientists at NASA built a special gun to simulate dangerous, high-velocity collisions with airborne fowl. The gun launched dead chickens at aircraft windshields, providing data that helped reduce the accident rate. British observers were impressed and bought the gun to test the windshields on their new high-speed trains.
Their first test was a disaster: The chicken shattered the windshield, blasted through the controls, ripped the engineer’s backrest in half, and embedded itself in the wall of the cabin. The Brits were horrified after several tests and were in doubt. They immediately cabled, "Houston, we have a problem." They asked NASA whether this was the same special gun they used or they had the wrong one. The response from NASA was a three-word, one-line memo: “Defrost the chicken.”
John was probably in doubt when he sent his disciples to Jesus with the question, “Are you the One who is to come, or should we look for another?” He was not sure whether it was the right question, but it was a question nonetheless. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that when we have arrived at the question, the answer is already near.
Some of us can identify with John the Baptist. We have already experienced moments of doubt and questions in our own lives. We have felt them with the dark clouds of unemployment and financial instability. We have noted them in an unwanted family problem. We have met them in an unexpected health diagnosis. We had probably asked, “Are you my God who loves me? Are you my God who cares for me?” And some we know who passed through those darkest moments had asked, “Is there a God?”
There is a God. Without God, nothing could be possible. With God, nothing is impossible. Be strong, fear not as the prophet Isaiah promises. The desert will bloom. The blind will see. The deaf will hear. The lame will walk. And the mute will sing.
Be patient, James the apostle adds. Do not complain about one another. Take as an example of hardship and patience the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. He must be joking! The prophets are not remembered for their patience. They call down fire from heaven. They are fire and brimstone speakers. Now, for those of us who are having problems with patience, perhaps James is telling us that we were meant to be prophets after all. And he is not kidding!
We are called to be spokespersons for God. We need to speak more about the mission and the work of Christ, which is already being done in every family, in every Church and in every community. And they never make the 6 o’clock news. Look how you care and look after each other. Look how you sacrifice for your children.
Just looking around and seeing the person seated next to us is already a reason to give thanks for Christmas and feel deeply its meaning. Just relating and communicating with persons we love is already a grace. Just being here, alive and considerably well, is already a blessing.
We do these all the time. There is a lot of goodness in the world, but we have taken them most for granted. Love is given and love is received. There was no categorical answer to the question of John because Jesus made it known that the Kingdom of Jesus is here and His Gospel is the Good News we have to share.
If we really believe that Jesus is the One, then the kingdom of God is here and now. If we really believe that Jesus is the One who is to come, then God’s kingdom is being revealed to us every hour and every day. And if we really believe that there is no need to look for another Messiah, then we have a need to glorify God’s kingdom in our own families, in our own lives and in our own hearts.
Once we all do that, there is no need to defrost the chicken. Because Houston, in all reality and honesty, there is really no problem.