Today is the traditional celebration of Midsummer. I often feel a bit anxious at this point that the summer is slipping by. But midsummer is actually rather misnamed – it is really mid year and in astronomical terms it is the start of summer. So many good things lie ahead.
It is also the celebration of the birth of John the Baptist, and those two things are connected. John was the cousin of Jesus, born six months before him, and his life of ascetic simplicity in the wilderness was a challenge to the self satisfaction and complacency of his culture, his fearless preaching denounced the powerful and the corrupt, and his baptism was a call to start afresh. And all of that was a way to make straight paths and prepare the way for the Lord.
And if you remember John said of Jesus “He must become greater; I must become less.” And so while Jesus was born at the point of the year when the days start to lengthen, John was born at the turn of the year as the days start to shorten.
So John the Baptist tells us to get ready for what is to come. Many of us have got through lockdown with netflix marathons, too much time staring at screens and on the sofa. And that is all fine, but we have to admit it isn’t really life giving. John would challenge us to get ready for what is next by stripping away the distractions and the obstacles and to finding a new beginning. He calls us to strip away the clutter, to start again and find in a new simplicity a way to see the things that really matter.
And so at this point of new beginning, what does it look like to make straight paths and prepare the way for the Lord? Our Virtual Homegroups will be asking that question, and they meet this evening. For more information or to join one email firstname.lastname@example.org