Oh wait, didn't we do John the Baptist LAST Sunday? Well, yes, but he's back again for another visit, this time in an episode from John's gospel that sounds a lot like last week's lesson. John the Evangelist -- who almost never sounds like Matthew, Mark or Luke, and who rarely uses the same event to tell his story -- quotes John the Baptist and that sandal quote that we heard last week ... "I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal."
This is interesting from a Biblical scholarship perspective ... if even John the Evangelist records John the Baptist saying the bit about the sandal, well that is probably something the historical John the Baptist said.
But more interesting to me is ... why does the lectionary want us to hear this story again in the same year, once from Mark and once from John? Why are we not allowed to move on to the Annunciation, the dream of Joseph, the visit to Elizabeth and all those great warm-up stories to the birth of Jesus. Why do we have to spend TWO WEEKS in the wilderness with John the Baptist?
The Baptizer is not done with us yet. We must not have heeded his message. There must be more to learn. As you sit in the wilderness this week, where do you hear the voice of the Baptizer calling you? Where is the light you need to see, the light he has come to bear witness to? The light is shining in this dark, dark month. Can you lift up your head, look around, and see it dawning?