The voice of one crying out …
Each year during Advent we hear again the story of John the Baptist, crying in the wilderness. John is an eccentric preacher who eats wild honey and locusts and wears a skin of camel hair. He preaches a gospel of repentance and the need for being baptized with water. John is a heralder of the kingdom of God, and of the coming of the one who would baptize with fire.
This man was the child who leapt in the womb of his mother Elizabeth when the pregnant Mary greeted her. Mary had just been visited by the angel and stayed for three months with her cousin Elizabeth. I have often wondered about their conversations; of joy, of mystery, and full of questions about what all of this means. And how did those two infants in the womb experience those conversations and emotions?
What else do we know of this preacher, other than his strange diet and yet expensive taste in jackets? Okay, that may be a bit much. Some say that John was a member of the Essene community, a religious sect of Judaism that had strict practices and an ascetic lifestyle. Clearly, he lived a different existence out in the desert and was preaching loud and long enough to be noticed. Scripture says that many were coming out to see and hear him. The scribes and Pharisees who went out to see him surely thought he was not quite right in the head. Especially when he called them out in front of everyone.
We have all probably had our fill of loud voices this fall. The election campaign seemed to be a constant baiting session, with nothing but accusations and angry voices, each one claiming to have the truth and know the answers. No matter our candidate, we probably all felt that this was never helpful or clear. Many would like all the angry and unhappy voices to just go away. We would like the world to quietly go back to the good old days when politics were polite and life was better. But was it?
Some would prefer that Jesus only come in the quiet of Christmas morning - the little Lord Jesus no crying he makes. The Advent season heralds both the coming of Jesus as the humble Christ child and Jesus whose kingdom will come. Sometimes it takes a little volume to get our attention. I know that sometimes I need to listen more intently and turn up the volume.
How do we discern THE voice among all the other voices – sometimes quiet and sometimes loud – that calls us into that kingdom? When have you heard the voice calling you to … prepare the way of the Lord?
Sue von Rautenkranz