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Summary: Does the message of John the Baptist have any relevance in the 21st Century?

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Sharrington 13-07-03

John the Baptist - Mk 6:14-29

Our Gospel this morning is all about the ministry and death of that enigmatic character -John the Baptist.

Story: As I was thinking about John the Baptist, I wondered what would life be like in our parish - if the Bishop had instituted John the Baptist rather than John Penny - as Rector of Sharrington? (PAUSE)

Can you imagine, for example inviting John the Baptist round for dinner.

What would you expect?

1. His clothes.

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

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

And if we were honest, he’d probably look more

like the local gypsy than the new Rector.

2. His diet

And if you asked him if he had any dietary

requirements - he would tell you that he’s

vegetarian.

And he would then probably add:

“Actually I only eat locusts and honey in the summer season.”

That would be enough to drive any sane hostess up the wall.

I ask you, where can you get locusts at this time of the year?

3. His diplomacy

John the Baptist would not have been a prime candidate for the Foreign Office.

He was not diplomatic enough. He called a spade a spade – or even something euphemistically equivalent.

4. 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

breakfast?

Did he try to engage them in polite conversation about their work?

Did he ask them for their own perspective on the Messiah?

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 and influence people is it?

Not only did he alienate the religious leaders but - we read in the Gospel this morning- he fell out with bigwig - King Herod, himself.

John was a prophetic voice calling the people back to their commitment to God. He told Herod that he was committing adultery by marrying his brother Philip’s wife Herodias and that he should stop.

And that eventually cost him his head.

But John didn’t care for “the Good and the Great” in the land– He cared only for the things of God.

5. His first sermon at Christmas

Could you imagine his first Christmas sermon in Sharrington - with a full church?

What do you think his message would have been?

Would it have been a platitude about simply going on “being loving to one another?”

Or would he have called us to repent and seek the things of God? I tend to think the latter.

6. John the Baptist was not 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, think and act just like everybody else.


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