Today is the feast of the beheading of John the Baptist, a strange thing to remember perhaps, this wild prophet of millenia ago locked away for speaking out and then beheaded on a vengeful whim because his words continued to cut through and expose the debauchery and depravity of anothers situation and shone truth into their lives. John suffered martyrdom for speaking the truth, he was a herald and forrunner for Christ choosing to step aside to make room for his cousin yet carrying on his own ministry speaking light into the darkness.
I think of John as I think of local, national and global situations today, John who overwhelmed by the reality of his imprisonment sent his disciples to Jesus to confirm that he had got it right, that he had not missed the point, that he could and should continue to speak out. I think of John when I see reports from Gaza, more deaths, more destruction, more oppression, and I yearn for a truly prophetic voice that cuts through the political and emotional crap and cries out "this must stop". I think of John when I think of the recently exposed child abuse cases ( 1400) in Rotherham, and how the abuse and dismissal of children has been covered up and hushed up, of how young girls have been sexually objectified and terrorised, and long again for a prophetic voice that demands that they been seen, for surely they are fearfully and wonderfully made. I think of John when I think of local situations here in Blackpool, of unchecked poverty, of abuses of power, case after case of depression and addiction, and I long for the herald to cry out, "level the way- make the rough places smooth, prepare a way for the Lord"...
Then I realise that I have that voice, that the stirring within me gives rise to the cries for justice, for peace and for healing, that John was beheaded is a challenge that calls me beyond my comfort zone, that should call all who bear the name of Christ, all who care for humanity in any way beyond our comfort zones to work together and not to remain silent...
To take a stand, to declare that this must stop, to know our own brokenness that holds us back and sends us diving for cover . Over on Facebook this morning Morning Bell posted an image bearing the words; "Let us set foot on the Holy Mountain that we may gaze upon the divine". On the holy mountain we gain a bigger perspective than our own, I believe that that is where John dwelt, both looking upon God and seeing with God. How can we respond to the invitation of the feast day of his martyrdom? By stepping onto the mountain of God and looking upon the world, his world with compassion and awe, by weeping with those who weep, by calling this brokeness wrong, by standing in the gap and by refusing to be silenced...
Jesus told them, “Go back and tell John what’s going on:
The blind see,
The lame walk,
Lepers are cleansed,
The deaf hear,
The dead are raised,
The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side.
“Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!”
Matthew 11: 4-6 The Message
"New life begins in the dark" Image mine.