Mark 1: 4-6 (NRSVA)
4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
“Judith, you are soaked to the skin!”
“I know, isn’t it wonderful?”
“Wonderful? You’ll catch your death! How did it happen?”
“Well, I met this amazing man, and he said..”
“Stop right there, Judith. You fool. Have you no sense? You’ve been listening to that crazy prophet, haven’t you?”
Who knows how many first century households were turned upside down by the effects of encounters with John the baptist. Ceremonial washing was nothing new but there was a proper time and place for it. John and his followers must have seemed to some to be not just foolish, but dangerously foolish. How do we handle encounters with intense, challenging biblical characters or ideas?
Sometimes I forget that opening myself to your word is not just about comfort.
I forget that acquiring and guarding anything which is precious sometimes involves danger.
Guard me from the dangers without and within as I explore some of the more difficult people and passages in the Bible.
When I feel overwhelmed by what I don’t understand,
or want to turn away from anything that makes me uncomfortable,
or feel that the whole idea of faith is foolish,
take me in your golden current of grace,
let me rest in its eddies and flows,
knowing there is sense, and purpose, and meaning to be found