Day 7: FOR PETE’S SAKE
John 1:21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.”
John the Baptist is a wild and unruly character. He’s wandering out in the wilderness, eating bugs and honey, yelling about preparing the way for the coming Lord. He’s an essential character in the story of Jesus’ birth, an essential character in the story of God’s incarnation. And he was also a regular guy. John the gospel writer introduces him: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the Light…he himself was not the Light, but he came to testify to the Light.”
I forget, over and over, that God rarely chooses the rich and famous to become key players in his Kingdom. Jesus was born to an unwed teenage girl and an everyday craftsman – Joe the Carpenter. Eunuchs, prisoners, tax-collectors, soldiers, fishermen, divorcees, widows, and orphans get swept up into Jesus’ story.
I forget, over and over, to pay attention to the places and the people where no spotlight shines. I forget that God’s greatest work gets done not in the limelight but in the forgotten cracks and crevices of the world. I get so caught up in headline news and (less-than)presidential Twitter feeds that I forget to track the storylines down here in my neighborhood, in the underside places of Empire, in communities living quietly and generously and out of sight. I forget, and for that, I need forgiveness.
Who are you? They asked John, when he came preaching and baptizing and testifying. You aren’t Elijah, right? And you aren’t the Messiah, right? Then what right do YOU have to be here witnessing in this way?
And John, a man sent from God, replied with an ancient line from the prophet Isaiah: “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘make straight the way of the Lord!’”
When I forget that God so often shows up in the quiet, forgotten, bottom side of Empire, I also forget that I, too, am called to be a voice crying out in the wilderness, that I, too, am a woman sent by God as a witness to testify to the Light. I forget that I am called this way. Maybe you do, too. Here’s a reminder: