In the Lectionary

Sunday, January 19, 2014: Isaiah 49:1-7; John 1:29-42

My father-in-law said that when he began ministry six decades ago, pastors were expected to visit the sick, preach and do a little teaching in the congregation. Now it takes me an entire semester just to skim the surface of “must-have competences” in an Ordained Leadership class. And the list is growing.

In the fourth Gospel, John the Baptist performs only one ministerial function: testimony. Unlike Luke or Matthew, John gives us none of the Baptizer’s scathing sermons or dire warnings. Here the Baptist is an unimposing preacher who is “not the light”; his sole purpose is to bear testimony to the light. Though some think John might be Elijah or a new prophet, John says he is only a “voice crying in the wilderness.” The first act of the drama of Jesus, then, is this insubstantial voice modestly pointing away from himself toward Another.

Is this enough?