Last week’s reflections from Paula Gooder’s The Meaning is in the Waiting focused on John the Baptist, who leapt for joy in his mother’s womb when Mary visited bearing Jesus in hers, and then seems to have waited most of his life to meet him again.
We thought last week about active waiting, and John’s waiting was certainly not passive, as he proclaimed the coming of the one who was greater than he, and preached the message of repentance and forgiveness that Jesus would later reveal the full truth of.
Gooder wonders if John fully understood who Jesus was, when they finally met face to face in the waters of the Jordan, then suggests that this may be the wrong question to ask, recognising that “John was who he was and, more importantly, he was who he was called to be. He stood, waiting, between the old and the new, because that was what God had called him to do and, perhaps in that waiting found meaning”.
I’m sure that at times it must have felt like a frustrating calling, having a message burning so fiercely inside of him that his whole life was oriented around sharing it, but perhaps never fully understanding what it meant, and never seeing the fullness of it realised. (John was killed early in Jesus’ ministry, and so did not live to see his death and resurrection.)
I’m sure of it because I feel some of it. For two years I have had the words “God in the mess and the dirt” seared into my heart, but I cannot possibly express all that those words contain, and I will only ever have glimpses of what they look like in our present reality. But those words and those glimpses are precious, and there is great meaning in waiting to discover more of their riches. Like unwrapping layer after layer of the greatest pass the parcel in the world, much of the joy is in the process.