“He’s not the Messiah. He’s a very naughty boy.” Words from Brian’s Mother in Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Maybe the inspiration came in some way from John’s words today ‘I am not the Messiah.’
The Messiah was the one who was going to come and sort things out, restore the Jewish people and assure them of their special status as God’s chosen people. They didn’t quite get what they expected. We’ll be thinking more about that in a few days.
In the meantime however we think about John mistaken identity and being a witness to another who is to come. For there are parallels between us and John.
Maybe we don’t wear the latest range of camel’s hair clothing at least not in public but we are like him in that in our living we are called to point to the one who is to come. It’s challenging work and so it can sometimes feel that we are like voice(s) crying out in the wilderness. Yet God has and does call and use us to be as Isaiah so wonderfully put it ‘oaks of righteousness.’
The oak, such a venerable tree has deep roots. We come here Sunday by Sunday to worship, pray and have our roots nurtured. So that the branches of our lives, the witness that we offer for Christ can be spread far and wide over our city and beyond.
A 16th century mystic and poet, St. John of the Cross, whom the church remembers today offers us some words to ponder as we think of our witness:
‘for each one of us is the midwife and there under the dome of your being does creation come into existence, through your womb dear pilgrim, the womb of your soul and God grasps our arms for help.’
This is an intriguing image, midwives bringing God’s love into this world. And in faith as God grasps our soul John of the Cross helps reminds us that our arms are like the branches of the oak stretched out in love and service to our neighbours wherever they may be.
That love and service takes many forms but I want to think about two.
At the PCC on Tuesday night as we journey to fashion a vision for our parish for the years to come, a recurrent theme was an anxiety about our limited resources in terms of people.
However our churchwarden Shelagh was able to identify a significant number of people on our pastoral roll who are already involved in all kinds of work, serving our neighbours in our community and beyond. There is much to give thanks for.
Continue reading “He’s not the Messiah – he’s a very naughty boy”