Monday, December 6, 2010

It's Not Easy Being John

This weekend's readings centered on John the Baptist.  And it just so happens this fall I've been working on a comedy about the Second Coming, and as part of my research I spent some time thinking and reading about John. He's the one character that occurs at or near the start of all four gospel stories.  Cousin John, desert dweller, eater of the locusts and the wild honey.  I always imagine him old, with wild greying hair, and bugs or little bits of food stuck in his shaggy beard.  Not the guy you bring home to Mom and Dad; more the guy you see under the freeway.

But when I was doing my research, what really hit me is what a drag it could have been to be John.  From the moment he's born -- BORN -- he's living in Jesus' shadow.  His whole life is molded not around any personal goals or aspirations, but on preparing the way for Jesus.  And, true to form, once John's got his ministry going, what happens? Jesus shows up and it's all "Bro, I'll take it from here." In some gospels he still sticks around, but mostly just for the ignominy of having his his head cut off by King Herod.

How do you deal with living in someone else's shadow like that? At not being the top dog, not getting all the credit -- or maybe, not even getting all the credit you're due? And how did John negotiate that?  And what might we learn from him?

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