(This is my sermon for 12/6--Advent II)
John the Baptist was a strange guy.
He lived alone in the desert.
He ate locust and wild honey.
He probably hadn’t trimmed his beard or hair in decades.
He wore sackcloth—like wearing worn-out shoes and jeans and a dirty coat and no socks.
If he hadn’t been in the Jordan River so many times, he wouldn’t had bathed for years.
He probably still smelled bad.
And he wasn’t too friendly—he’d probably call us all ‘sinner’.
If he showed up at coffee hour, who would talk to him—besides Garnett?
Yet this was the guy…this was the one…The One…to prepare the way of the Lord. The One to make the mountains shrink away, to level the ground, to make smooth the pathway for the Lord to come.
We always look for the good groomed and well dressed and superior folks, those with perfume or sweet-smelling cologne to lead us.
John gives the lie to all that.
Where are we to look to find the Lord who is coming? Who will tell us the Lord is drawing nigh?
What about ‘the least of these’?
What about those in soup kitchens and homeless shelters?
What about those who are on the outer limits of society?
That’s who John was.
We are waiting and watching for the coming of the Lord, for the birth of Jesus, for the Christ-mass.
But what if we’re looking the wrong way and not waiting for the ones to show up the birthplace?
Mary and Joseph weren’t ‘homeless’, but in Bethlehem they had nowhere to stay but in a barn.
And who came to welcome the Lord?
Shepherds called by angels.
Shepherds were the lowest of the low in the first century.
Wandering around with their flocks, they were seen as thieves and scoundrels, not part of civilized society. Outcasts, the unwanted.
So where do we look, in these pandemic days, for those who will point us toward God?
Perhaps we need to look toward those who are suffering most.
The poor, people of color, the hungry, the unemployed—those who have lost the most.
Children without computers who can’t go to school. People in endless lines at food banks. Those who won’t be able to pay their rent.
“The least of these” are those Jesus, in his life, loved most.
Maybe we should look there to find our John the Baptist. Maybe we should find Christ in them.
What can we do for the least of these? What do John and Jesus call us to do?
Is that where we might find the Christ?
In people like John? In the least of these?
Let us ponder all that for a moment—waiting and watching for an answer from the holy one….