John the Baptizer ruins our idyllic Christmas every darn year.
With his breath smelling like locusts and honey.
With his scraggly beard and hair-suit.
With his name-calling and bombastic personality.
He's out of place with Mary serenely kneeling next to a quite baby Jesus. He looks downright wild next to gentle Joseph, leaning on his staff. He doesn't even match the shepherds, probably his closest vocational cousin, because all of those Nativity set shepherds are young, beardless, and have sheep over their shoulders.
John the Baptizer just doesn't fit in with this whole scene, and yet here he is this Sunday, proclaiming that the Messiah will make geographical changes that will knock our socks off.
"The Messiah will flatten mountains, fill in valleys, make winding roads straight and rocky roads smooth," he shouts.
But we can barely hear him over Bing Crosby crooning...which is why he shouts.
Oh, if you wonder what this week's Gospel reading is, you can find it in
Go ahead and read it, I'll wait.
Certainly John the Baptizer feels out of place in our Christmas preparation. We'd rather have cookie bake-offs and candelight adorn our silent nights in these days.
But that's not what we get. We get mountains made low and valleys filled in and a wild man standing outside our manger plays calling us from our sweet delusions and into the real world.