Forward Today: Preparing the way

In the new Forward Today, Scott considers John the Baptist, noting that we’d be well served to follow his example this season (clothing choices excepted!).

Dear friends in Christ,

Last Sunday, and again this Sunday, we encounter John the Baptist in our Gospel readings. Every year, his voice comes to us from the wilderness, proclaiming the coming of the Messiah and inviting repentance. Sometimes when I’m at the mall this time of year, I imagine what it would be like for John the Baptist to stand in the food court announcing the coming of Jesus.
It would be easy for us to miss the core of John the Baptist’s message amid all his eccentricities. The locusts and honey, the hair shirts, the exotic wilderness locale, the miraculous birth narrative, and the whole picture are extraordinary. But none of those things exactly defines him.

We would do well to hear his call for repentance. In the midst of this season, we are invited to turn away from evil and toward the good. We are invited to reject the temptations of Satan and turn toward the costly path of following Jesus. We need to hear this message in Advent, and we need to hear this message at a time in our world when some flourish beyond imagining while others starve for lack of resources. We need this message.
There is still a more basic reality of John the Baptist, one that we should emulate. John the Baptist always pointed toward Jesus. His message was not about him, but about Jesus. His deeds mattered, but Jesus’ deeds mattered more. His proclamation was compelling, but Jesus’ proclamation was all consuming.
Just as John told people about Jesus, so should we. I don’t think we need to put on hair shirts and move into the wilderness, but I do think we need to be bold in our proclamation. We are meant to invite people to follow Jesus, to tell people about the Good News of God in Christ, and to announce that our true joy comes in loving God and our neighbor.
Do you know someone who could use a word of Good News? Do you know someone looking for hope and purpose? There’s no better time than Advent to offer an invitation. “Come celebrate Christmas with me. Come feast in the radiant glory of God’s love for us, as it has been revealed in Jesus Christ.”

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


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