WHAT A CHARACTER!

WHAT A CHARACTER! What a visionary John the Baptist appears to have been. “Skinny as a cactus” as Barbara Brown Taylor has it, and ready to stand before all-comers to present them with a haunting hunch. No. He was not the Christ. No. Not the greatest amongst the prophets, past or present. No. Not the light that was to come into the world. No. He didn’t know his name. Yes. He understood that most people had heard more messianic / apocalyptic preachers than they’d had hot dinners. No. He wouldn’t be able to hold a candle to the one who’s absolutely going to be raised up, “one who stands among you”. It’s a hunch. A haunting hunch. Not much detail yet. But an absolute assurance that what’s needed in this world, the real and radical hope for the friendless, the unheard, the dispossessed (of whom, in our time too, Archbishop Rowan has been writing in the Advent wilderness this week) – is repentance. Not a nauseating or ingratiating or formulaic “Father, forgive me for I have sinned” but repentance. Turning around. Looking at life, and at love, and the way we live, and the way we love, in a new way. John the Baptist had a prophetic hunch that what was going to be required, in future, of every anointed man, woman and child upon the face of the earth was a willingness to “walk the walk” as well, if not better, than they “talk the talk”. And people like you and me were prepared to put life and limb at great risk to go out there into the wilderness to hear that! John the Baptist wasn’t the only guy with a hunch, was he? We’ve a pretty strong sense too that what we need in our broken world is a good dunking in the Jordan. Fresh, cold water. Rise and shine. Smell the coffee. The wilderness is about to break into flower. Which wilderness? Where? Yours. In your heart, for a start. What a character! What a visionary. Who? Ah, come on! YOU …