Today is the feast day of John the Baptist. You may or may not remember him from the earlier parts of several gospels--he's the prophet who comes before Jesus, who reminds people that they're looking for Jesus, not him. He says, "I am not the messiah." For more on the theology of this feast day, see this post on my theology blog.
I've been thinking about John the Baptist, even before his feast day. I've been thinking about the place of prophets. If John the Baptist walked among us today, what would he call our attention to? Who are the vipers who need to be uprooted from our society.
I've thought of John the Baptist, who realizes he can't save people. Why can't I remember that of myself? I can help, I can assist, but I cannot save.
I'm thinking of John the Baptist, resolute in his self-knowledge. People tried to transform him into what they wanted and needed him to be, but he refused. I wonder how many of us could be that strong.
I'm thinking of John the Baptist, not afraid to speak truth to power, even though it meant his certain death. How can we get a bit of that fearlessness?
I'm thinking of John the Baptist, living in the wilderness, eating locusts and wild honey. I'm yearning for some time away myself. What visions might we have with more wilderness time?
I think of John the Baptist, miracle baby. In one gospel, we meet his mother Elizabeth, who is barren and old. But she gets the blessing she's wanted for so long and that she must have thought would never come to her. I love this part of the story--there are so many things that I'm slowly giving up hope of seeing in my life--but most of them aren't nearly as impossible as a late life baby would be.
I think of John the Baptist, the parts left out of the story. What did he see as drudgery? I have a vision of him saying, "Didn't I just baptize people yesterday? I'm ready to do something else."
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