John the Baptist. There's a character. He's more often associated with Advent, the season before Christmas, but indulge me here. He's an interesting piece of the story.
A couple of weeks ago, at the church I'm joining, John made an "appearance" as an interruption to the service, shouting and gesticulating wildly. Being theatrically trained, I watched for cues and realized soon enough that it was a performance, but it was convincing enough to truly frighten a few people in the congregation.
That experience has raised all kinds of questions for the congregation, but here's a few to think about in relation to Jesus.
A couple of years ago, in this blog, I wondered about "The Kind of People Who Follow Jesus." It seems it's worth wondering about the kind of people who point us to Jesus as well.
Consider: Here was the son of a Temple priest, probably heir to some kind of nice robes at the very least. Still, we find John, as an adult, on the banks of a river wearing rough clothes and eating locust and wild honey.
We'd probably shake our heads and wonder if he had a bump on the head or a bad experience with recreational chemicals. We'd be sad for poor Zechariah and Elizabeth, who are probably dead by now, and we'd wonder what might have happened had John been born to younger parents, who maybe would have lived long enough to see him into a more respectable life.
For the most part, I don't think many---if any---of us would have taken him seriously.
Many of the saints through the centuries have urged us to see Christ in the face of the poor. It's a practice worth keeping as I meet homeless folk daily in my life in the big city.
What I say next, I don't say with any glib expectation that this is easy or heartwarming, but I say it anyway in this season of Incarnation.
Maybe it's worth also listening. If we do not find the Messiah in their words, perhaps we'll be pointed in the right direction.