‘Friend of the Bridegroom’

St John the Baptist, detail. Banner attributed to G F Bodley.
Parish of St John the Baptist, Epping. [photograph Mr. G]

A traditional theme on the Third Sunday of Advent is that of St. John the Baptist.
His part in the Christmas story began at the Visitation of The Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth.
When Mary greeted Elizabeth, St Luke records that the babe in her womb (John) leapt for joy.
After a time of preparation in the wilderness, possibly among the desert people known as the Essenes, John obeyed the will of God and left the desert to fulfill his part in the story of Jesus.
Calling the people to repentance he prepared them for the Christ, who is Jesus.
His own followers were to leave him when Jesus began his ministry of loving salvation . His own story was to end in his death at the hands of King Herod. His legacy was that he would for all eternity be known as the ‘forerunner’, the one who pointed people to Jesus and who fulfilled the prophecy of who Jesus is and what he does. The ‘last’ of the prophets he was the proto-disciple, the herald of the Good News. Orthodox Christians give him a much warmer title. He is the friend of the Bridegroom.
It is to this deep and joyful friendship that we are called. Like John we are encouraged to point away from self and towards God. The more people turn their lives to God and away from self-centredness, the better our world will be. John the Baptist gives us the words to live by:
I must decrease and He (Jesus) must increase.

My friend, Joyce, has produced a book of  Reflections for Advent to Epiphany. This is her reflection for December 9th.

He himself was not the light,
but he came to testify to the light.

John the Baptist,
not the Light,
but pointing to the Light.
Pointing away from himself,
to the one to come.

John the Baptist,
a faithful witness,
showing the way,
in spite of the cost.

John the Baptist,
a wild man for Christ,
pushing the boundaries
beyond convention.

John the Baptist,
searching for the truth,
speaking the truth to power,
dying for the truth.

God our Father, thank you for the
faithful witness of your servant John.
Help us to reflect your light, so that we too,
may bear faithful  witness to you.

Reflection by Joyce Smith

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