Wild and unruly faith
An intriguing thing about the Christian faith is the way in which the radical and counter-cultural teaching of Jesus has often been wrapped up by history into something very bland and respectable.
In her talk this Sunday about John the Baptist, Margaret described how weird it was that this totally unrespectable, fringe-dwelling, locust-eating prophet now had schools and hospitals named after him. The man whose message was that we should all turn around and change our ways, who horrified the religious establishment of his day, has been tamed for modern eyes and ears.
I imagine many of us can testify that respectable, sensible religion struggles when the reality of life hits. Pretty stories about babies in mangers perhaps can't sustain and inspire us when everything is turned upside down by grief, sadness and confusion.
John the Baptist lived and died for the radical and life-changing truths of the Gospel, shouting in the wilderness to all who would hear that it was time to turn away from the shallow and selfish, to throw yourself onto the love and mercy of a God who comes to be with us.
John is not interested in thoughts and prayers and distant ideas of God. John speaks of the God who came to us in history as Jesus Christ, and is available to us through his Spirit.
In the northwest corner of our church there's an image of John in a stained glass window. Standing in his torn camel hair loin cloth, staring straight at us, holding his fist in the air, refusing to be silenced or subdued.
May we too know the joy and the wildness of the light that burns so brightly and so fiercely in this present darkness.