Zechariah’s Canticle Part 2

 

john-the-baptist…”You, My child shall be called
The prophet of the Most High,
For you will go before the Lord to prepare His way,
To give his people knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins.”

Thinking about this, this morning – John the Baptist in the wilderness. Somehow people heard about John- probably travelers saw and heard him, then spoke of him in the marketplaces, with their friends. “A strange and wild man,” they might have said,” living on locusts and wild honey, dressed in animal skins with a rope around his waist.” Why would someone want to go see him? Curiosity, maybe, but with lives as difficult as they were, why take the time to see? Entertainment? How many had time for this? The elites, of course, those who knew the Law and the Prophets – they were waiting, after all, for the Messiah – this was the predicted time. But ordinary people who by the sweat of their brows put food upon their family’s table?

Those ordinary folks who did go out to see John the Baptist – perhaps there was a longing in their hearts, a sense of their own unworthiness, a need to feel closer to God, and yes, a sense of curiosity and wonder. Jews knew their history; they were all waiting for God to bring them freedom.

And what did they find when they made the journey to the wilderness – a wild man, just as their friends had said. A man with a booming voice and a frightening message. “Repent!” No doubt some walked away, thinking that they had been entertained, or maybe some were disappointed. But to those who stayed, who heard John’s message, who submitted to his baptism – what did they experience? Was there an inner sense of freedom, a rekindling of their love for the Lord, a sense of wonder, of God’s closeness to them? And were they prepared when Jesus came on the scene? Were these people more open to the message of Jesus because of John’s work?

I would say “yes”, though of course, I have no proof. God comes to us in mysterious ways -sometimes we feel His presence in a word, an action by ourselves or others, by the way the morning light sculpts the branches of the trees or sparkles on the wet leaves. Each time we open our hearts to these moments, I think we become more open to the next “visit”.

Lovely morning this morning, though a bit cold. I have noticed the sunsets lately – they seem to be prettier than I remember – soft, pretty colors.