Summary: What if John the Baptist was appointed as your Rector?

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Brinton and Swanton Novers 12-01-03

Mk 1: 4-12 John the Baptist’s ministry

Story: Have you ever stopped to think what would happen if the Bishop appointed John the Baptist as Rector of Brinton (or Swanton Novers).

Imagine yourself asking John the Baptist round for dinner.

What would you have expected?

1. His clothes.

He wouldn’t have turned up in an Armani suit and a Pierre Chardin shirt.

What you would have would have got was a rugged man with a slightly dishevelled look.

And if we were honest, he’d probably look more like a gypsy than what you’d expect of the new vicar.

2. His diet

And if you asked him if he had any dietary

requirement and he would tell you that he’s

vegetarian. And he would then probably add:

“Well actually I only eat is locusts and honey.”

That would be enough to drive any hostess up the wall. I ask you, where can you get locusts at this time of the year?

3. His conversation

I wonder what his topic of conversation would be with you over the dinner table.

John the Baptist had few social graces.

When the Pharisees and Sadducees came out to look at his work, did he welcome them as honourable persons of the religious establishment?

Did he smile and exchange pleasantries over


Did he try to engage them in conversation about their work and their own perspective on religious matters?

Did he meet with them at the World Council of Churches to further interfaith dialogue?

No - but he did call them a bunch of poisonous snakes that were soon to be consumed by the flames of hell?

Not the way to make friends was it?

4. His first sermon at Christmas

Could you imagine his first Christmas sermon – in Brinton (or Swanton Novers) - with a full church.

What would his message have been be? Would he have told us simply to go on “being loving to one another?”

Or would he have preached a message of

repentance - with fire and enthusiasm.

5. He wasn’t a conformer

John the Baptist was not a conformer.

Obviously someone had forgotten to give him Dale Carnegie’s book “How to make friends and influence people” for Christmas.

The world, in which we live - demands conformity. It demands that we live and think and act just like everybody else.

Those who have the courage to resist may face great opposition and ostracism in their life.

Henry David Thoreau the great American poet once said:

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music that he hears, however measured and far away”.

Do you hear a different drummer?

It is essential that we listen to the voice of God inside of us. We are called, as Paul says, not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may discern what is the will of God.

6. His diplomacy

John the Baptist would have not made the grade in the Foreign Office. He was not diplomatic enough. He was your archetypal Yorkshireman. He called a spade a spade.

And when he got round to King Herod, he told him - in no uncertain terms - that Herod was committing adultery and that he should stop.

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