Dec. 9: I’m not the one you’re looking for
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It was just over a year ago that I was introduced to the Mennonite game. I grew up a “Coaster,” a funny and indecipherable surname, unindicative of its Polish roots, and married a Mennonite in a far away land where “Goertzen” was as unique (strange) as the gringos who bore it. It was only after returning to the U.S. (and a couple specific Menno-lands) that I learned there were more of us out there and that lines could be traced. I also learned that in the Mennonite game, Coaster got me nowhere.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John.
He was new to town and to these religious circles where people were used to knowing each other.
Who are you?
Instead of name-dropping, of defending his honor and his own story (miracle baby of respectable Zechariah and Elizabeth, thank-you very much), he orients himself, in the negative, toward another. I am not the Messiah.
The prophet? Not so much.
This is neither helpful nor satisfactory to his inquisitors. They press.
This time he answers in the words of someone else, a prophet they do recognize, but his answer still doesn’t make sense. The voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Make way…” And it doesn’t give him the right…
But still, he’s clear: I’m not the one you’re looking for.
As I consider the games we play and the efforts we make to validate our own place and work in the world, John reminds me that it’s not about me anyway, that there is an unrecognized Light and Lord among us and that Advent is about orienting ourselves, holding fast to the One Who Is. Messiah. Holy One. Son of the Most High. God.
19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ. ” 21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself ?” 23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ” 24 Now some Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” 28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.