As I mentioned last week, each of the four Gospels contains it’s own set of John the Baptist stories and each Gospel writer uses his stories to his own end in telling the bigger story of Jesus. In every case, however, John is described as a forerunner, sign-post or precursor to Jesus. He really is a supporting character. What in the world is the church thinking spending two whole weeks right in the middle of December talking about John the Baptist? Isn’t there another story we want to be telling (like the story of Jesus)?
All in due time.
The funny thing about humans and stories is that while we have the capacity to remember bits and pieces of lots of stories, our ability to remember all of the details (even the most important ones) of any one story is sometimes limited. This is what makes oral traditions so fun. The notion that many cultures share several of the same core narratives, but adapt and utilize them in different ways based on their own needs and goals is really kind of neat. Even the fact that a single story may change and evolve over time to continue to be relevant in the lives of a growing community is pretty cool, too.
But what if the details are important? How do we get people back up to speed on the important bits they may have forgotten?
We repeat the story with greater frequency. That’s what we do.
Though the Sunday church texts on John the Baptist may seem redundant. My sense is that the Church in its wisdom is calling us to remember something important about John that we may have otherwise forgotten. Maybe it’s time to give John another look. I know I will be as we head into the end of this week.