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  • Canon Paul Black, Rector

Called to be finger-pointers


Today we celebrate and give thanks for the birth of John the Baptist, our Patron Saint, and a unique character in Biblical history. He was the last of the prophets to preach God’s word before the coming of the Messiah and he is rightly called the last of the Old Testament prophets.

Jesus declared John the Baptist to be the greatest man to have ever lived. “I tell you,” he said, “among those born of women there is no one greater than John.” He is remembered for the kind of life he lived – a harsh and strange life dressed in camel's hair, eating locusts and wild honey out in the desert. He was eventually beheaded on the orders of King Herod.

In medieval art, John is often depicted with his finger pointing towards heaven – a long, slender index finger on his right hand. Every time we walk into St John’s Church we see our Patron Saint depicted in the east window with his index finger pointing upwards toward heaven.

John’s mission was to point people to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He did this in fulfilment of his father Zechariah's words:

"You, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins," (Luke 1:76-77).

John came into this world for this purpose – to point people to Christ. He came to call God's people away from their sin, to repent and prepare for the coming of Christ.

Like John, as Jesus’ disciples, we are called to be finger-pointers. We are called to point people to Christ through our words, through our deeds and through our actions. We are called to play our part – both as a St John’s faith community and as individuals – in building God’s kingdom here on earth.

Pointing people to Christ takes a variety of forms. I don’t know exactly what your divine finger-pointing calling looks like when it comes to your place of work, with your friends or with you family. But it may mean:

• telling someone about Jesus and how he has made a difference to your life; • spending time with people who seem to have nothing to offer; • caring for a mate who has made some terrible mistakes in the sure knowledge that no one is beyond God’s grace, reach and forgiveness; • or living with the freedom to be vulnerable and praying not for an easier life, but for strength to follow the pathway that points to Christ.

Like John, we are called to point people to Christ through our words, through our deeds and through our actions. We are called to play our part in building God’s kingdom here on earth.

#JohntheBaptist #PatronalSaint

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