Today is Betsy's birthday. I have a special surprise for her tomorrow. She knows something is planned, just not what. I love surprises--both giving and receiving.
Looks like I'm going to get another chance to preach about John the Baptist. He sits brooding in his prison as I write this, eager to hear what I'll say about him on Sunday. The Theolog has this nugget:
The proof Jesus offers that the kingdom of God has drawn near is the healing of our bodies, the restoration of our senses. The blind see. The deaf hear. The lame walk. The poor hear good news. Unfortunately for John, the only glaring absence in this list of fulfillment from the prophet Isaiah is the release of the captives! John never will go free. But just in case people use John’s imprisonment to question significance of John’s life, Jesus turns to the crowd and asks them, “When you went out into the wilderness to see John, what did you go out to look at?” Three times he tests the crowd’s ability to perceive through their senses the activity of God in the person of John. Finally, in the echoes of Isaiah once again, Jesus says, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.” John is more than a prophet; he is the preparer of the way.
Preparer of the way.... I like the sound of that. I think a lot of clergy probably resonate with that aspect of John's mission. I don't know how many countless hours I've spent preparing my communities for the coming of God in one way or another. I remember when I was in College and thinking about ordination and a priest told me that I would spend more time moving metal folding chairs than I could possibly imagine. Hardly a ringing endorsement of the clerical vocation. And yet there is something very soothing about preparing a space for worship or fellowship in advance of the guests. Better to be a doorkeeper in the house of God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked, I suppose (....). And yet sometimes I think we clergy over-emphasize this aspect of the work. That is, we spend too much time moving chairs and patting ourselves on the back for working so hard. Hmm. Food for thought.