John the Baptist plays a prominent role in our lectionary during Advent. He appears in all three years of the Sunday cycle of Scripture readings on the second and third Sundays of Advent. He is the penultimate bearer of good news. He is a powerful prophet and preacher and an admirably humble servant of the Lord. He is also a little bit strange. I have this fantasy about John the Baptist interviewing for the position of Rector in an Episcopal parish. Just for fun, I imagine that the conversation with the Search Committee might go something like this. “John, tell us a little bit about yourself.” “Well, my father was a priest, and my cousin is Jesus, so you might say ministry is the family business .” “What are your hobbies?” “ I like to fish and hunt, and I make my own clothes and belts with the prey I catch.” What’s your pastoral style? Well, I am passionate. I like to shout a lot as I invite people to get baptized. When I am frustrated with people who just don’t get it, I call them a brood of vipers.” Do you think he would be offered the job? I am not so sure, yet John represents what we all seek in a rector. He represents what we all strive to be as Christians. John is wholeheartedly committed to pointing the way to Jesus and understands the urgency of that ministry. A ministry that leads to an abundant life. John points the way to Jesus by encouraging repentance and baptism. John points the way to Jesus by putting service before self. John points the way to Jesus by proclaiming him the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.
Our ministry together is to point the way to Jesus. To point the way to love, the way to forgiveness, the way to healing and peace, the way to wholeness and hope. We do this as we worship and pray together online, in church, at parish meetings, Zoom gatherings, in Bible Studies and through the work of small group ministries, like Becoming beloved Community, the DOK, the Lay Eucharistic Visitors, the Altar Guild, the Gentlemen of Noble Poverty and so many others. We do this through the beautiful music offered each week to the glory of God by our gifted musicians. We do this as we give of our time, talent, and treasure in thankfulness for God’s many blessings. We do this as we support community outreach ministries like Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard and the Angel Tree. We do this as we strive to offer Christian Formation opportunities for all ages that will challenge us and deepen our faith. We do this as we together implement a Strategic Plan, a journey of faith that, with God’s help, will prepare us for a bright future. We do this as we honor and learn from past leadership and as we seek to raise up new lay and clergy (the next Rector) leadership. And yes, like John, we are a little bit strange as we go about pointing the way to Jesus. That just makes it more interesting and fun.
May you have a holy Advent and a happy Christmas! Keep the faith! Pray for one another and for the needs of the world. Be safe.