Couldn't have said it better myself...



"We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are."

Anais Nin




Sunday, December 11, 2016

Light Breaks into the Dungeon of Doubt

A monologue delivered in place of a sermon this morning in the Agape Centre inspired by today's Lectionary reading of  Matthew 11: 2-19. 

(John huddled in a blanket... coughing)
The voice of one calling in the wilderness – prepare the way for the Lord…
Never were there more ironic words in scripture… They shaped my life… my ministry… I was ready to bring down the high and mighty to make the foundations for that highway in the wilderness… preparing the way for God’s chosen one… But honestly, I wasn’t really prepared myself… And to tell the truth I have felt more like I was in the wilderness over recent weeks and months than all those years in the howling wastes of desert around the Dead Sea… Was I right? Was he the one? Or was all I had done wasted?
I’ve had too much time to think… You would think I would be used to that given that I had spent years alone in the desert in prayerful preparation… meditating on God’s promises in scripture… But that was before, with something to aim for… But I hadn’t expected to end up here… Discarded by God… locked away in the depths of one of Herod’s many dungeons…
I suppose I had gotten used to the popularity… and the notoriety… Crowds coming out to me in the desert or down by the Jordan… knowing that I wasn’t afraid to tell it how it is… Calling them all to change their ways, including those self-righteous Sadducees and Pharisees… The only thing they could agree on was how much they hated me… But after all the years of preparation… from when I was child learning from my father and mother… it all seemed to be coming together…
My parents had always told me that I was special… doesn't every parent? But they said that I was a gift, not only to them in their old age, but to the people of Israel… You would think that would have given me a big head but they said that I was sent to prepare them for someone even more special… They even told me who it was to be… my cousin Jesus… We didn’t see much of each other when we were young… he grew up in Egypt and later in Nazareth… But I was weaned on stories of what had happened before we were born…
But later, as I went off to study in the desert, I heard that he was staying on in his father’s carpenter’s shop as his apprentice…
And I wondered whether my parents were right about him being so special… But then after years apart, I was preaching down by the Jordan… I saw him coming and I thought… “This is it… all that I have been preaching about is coming to be…” “There he is…” I said, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world…” I was overjoyed… But even then the seeds of doubt were sown, when he came to be baptised by me the same as any other sinner! How could he take away sins if he needed them washed away himself… Yes I could have sworn that I saw the Spirit coming down on him like a heavenly bird and I heard God saying that he was his son and that he was pleased with him… but I really didn’t understand… I wanted to ask him all about it… But as soon as he appeared he disappeared again… headed off into the desert, leaving me where I was… And that was the last I ever saw of him... then everything started to fall apart…
Herod sent his goons to get me… I had been preaching against him and his adulterous relationship with his sister in law, Herodias… and whether it was him or her got fed up with what I had to say, I don’t know, but I ended up in here… One day preaching under the searing sun of the desert… The next in the dark and cold of a dungeon… But I suppose that’s life… I just hadn’t expected it… I wasn’t prepared…
And down here, in the dark, the seeds of doubt germinated… was he the one? Or was I wrong? Was my whole ministry a mistake? Had I wasted my life in the Judean wastelands? So when some of the few followers I still had came to visit me, I asked them to seek him out and ask him directly… Was he the one?
And they did… and they came back to me, saying that he had told them “the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” And I knew immediately what he meant… Isaiah… the same prophet who’s instruction to prepare the way had shaped my ministry, had promised that one day such things would happen, when the one anointed by God’s Spirit had come… And I HAD seen the Spirit come down on him… I HAD seen the beginnings of God’s coming Kingdom… I just hadn’t really recognised it…
And I still don’t really understand… I still wish I could be part of it… See the kingdom come in all its fullness… rather than languishing in here. Why could I not be out there working with Jesus to see it all accomplished? Where is God’s will in all this? Would I be a distraction? Would people still flock to me rather than follow Jesus? I don’t know… There’s certainly no fear of many following me while I am in here. Most people know better than to risk bringing Herod’s wrath down on their heads. He’s apparently not quite as bad as his father was, but his lover Herodias is part of the family… and she seems to have inherited all the old man’s ruthlessness… so I don’t think I’m getting out of here any time soon… at least not in one piece… even though Isaiah promises that the oppressed will be released when God’s chosen one comes… But that’s me and my doubts again…
Oh I don’t know… I don’t know what will happen with me… I don’t know what will happen with Jesus… I can’t see the future any clearer than I can see anything else in the darkness of this dungeon… But I hope and I pray that what my followers have said is true… That in what Jesus has done we see a glimpse of God’s coming kingdom… A kingdom where there is no more darkness, disease, death… or doubt.

Shalom

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