A Poet in the Wilderness
Advent 2: Psalm 42:1–4, Mark 1:1–8
His name was John. He might have been Emily, or Mary or Maya in recent times, but in those days it was John, and there was something about his message that caught the ear.
He did not seek followers, but strangely they found him. He asked nothing of them, but what he offered — they longed for.
It was a baptism, a poetic awareness of a new way of being. This was no mere tattoo nor cross to be worn around the neck, though these may serve as meaningful reminders.
No, this was a baptism, an immersion into the poetry of a particular kind of God, revealed in a particular kind of person and experienced in a particular kind of spirit.
There will be more say about this God, but for now we pause in the wilderness. What do you see? It is winter and it is cold. A heart beats inside of us and thoughts move like fish within our brains both fast and slow. We have blessed and we have wronged. We have helped and we have hurt — and a river continues to flow beneath the surface of things.
What does the poetry say to you? The Psalm? John? The theologian Walter Brueggemann once wrote:
“The wilderness is a place where the power for life is fragile and diminished. …The inhabitants … are those who have had their vitality crushed, and their authority nullified and their will for life nearly defeated. This poem is a roll call for the marginalized… It is Advent time in the wilderness (W.B. Celebrating Abundance, p. 16-17).” Thanks be to God.
- How does the poetry of John (i.e., the theological significance of baptism) serve as an alternative to other modes of “Christmas” preparation?
- When we gather for the holidays (virtually or in Covid-cautious settings), what is the most important thing that should happen?
- Who is our neighbor, even now, and how do we love our neighbor best?
- What is one thing I can do today to attend to the health of my mind, body or spirit?
- What is one thing I can do today for a neighbor (or enemy) in need?