John the Baptist (7)

Luke 7:18-37 – the certainty of doubt In the simplicity and uniformity of a prison cell, it’s easy to doubt your identity. And having questioned yourself, you then query those you identify with. Through silent hours of backwards introspection, I wondered what it was all for – the water, the call to repentance, the preparation…

John the Baptist (6)

  John 3:22-30 – He must increase It was never a competition – how can get the biggest following? The most baptisms? My role was always a temporary one. What freedom in knowing it’s not all up to you! No burden of responsibility, for success. Knowing deep within: I am NOT God. Only when that…

John the Baptist (5)

John 1:29-34 – The lamb of God Of course, he didn’t look like one. There was nothing ovine about his gait or a fleecyness on his hair. Neither was he meek or mild, gentle or passive. He was part of the flock yet set apart. Not an unthinking follower, bleating in unison. Perhaps a shepherd…

John the Baptist (4)

John 1:19-26 – The record of John The questions came like a boxer’s punches – probing, jabbing, relentless. The men’s eyes narrow and harsh, their robes whipped by the wind, dampening as the hems touched the river’s edge. Their tzitzits zipping to and away from me with each enquiry Sometimes self-identity is easier in the…

John the Baptist (3)

  Luke 3:1-18 – What should we do? What should we do? Were they really so clueless, or were they hoping against hope for some comforting clichés – be nice; smile; don’t argue back…? Well they won’t find them here! Stark, bold, uncompromising – show you’ve changed. Be the change. A fruitless tree is useless…

John the Baptist (2)

  Luke 1:57-80 – What then will this child become? It was hard enough to hear over the wailing the child made. Not helped by the silent, gesticulating geriatric or the stubborn first-time matriarch. At eight days old, already a lifetime of miracles – an elderly woman defying her womb’s death to give birth the…

John the Baptist (1)

  Luke 1:39-45 – The two wombs You tend to get tired of hearing the well rehearsed stories of your childhood, Eagerly, breathlessly repeated by wistful parents. But this wasn’t a ‘normal’ family visit of stilted conversation, polite remarks and grudging hospitality. The wild-eyed teenager running into the arms of her blossoming, but aged cousin,…

John the Baptist – Advent poems

As this week we light the third candle in the Advent Wreath to remember John the Baptist, I’ll publish seven poems reflecting on episodes in John’s life seen in the Gospels, starting on Sunday. All have a theme of identity, just as Advent and John call us to examine ourselves and who we are before…

A pair of lovers

I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things. – Vincent van Gogh   Luke 24:13-35 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking…

Pieta

Only when I fall do I get up again – Vincent van Gogh   John 19:25-27 Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his…

Old man in sorrow

I’m such a nobody. – Vincent van Gogh   Psalm 22 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;and by night, but find no rest. Yet you are…

Raising of Lazarus

I often think that the night is more alive and more richly coloured than the day. – Vincent van Gogh   John 11:17-44 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come…