June 24: Observance of St. John, Baptist

June 23, 2012

ALMIGHTY God, by whose providence thy servant John Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour by preaching repentance;* Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; through† Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

I have a number of favorite days of observance. There are not that many in the slimmed down calendar of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. Regular readers here know that I have an affection for Ascension THURSDAY, which complete the resurrection miracle by remembering the bodily ascension of Christ. I also like the mystic aspect of Transfiguration, which is kept beginning on the evening of my birthday, August 5 (the “feast” is on August 6. John, Baptist is one of my favored days because even the name is contrary. It is not “John THE Baptist.”

There is something odd, yet likable, about John. When all Judea came out to see this wild man baptizing people in the Jordan, the Pharisees joined them. When John saw this bunch of unctuous, self-satisfied, worshipers of their own reflections, coming out as spiritual tourists in search of scenes suitable for gawking, he said, “you brood of vipers!” We can presume that John was not much into seeker-friendly worship. “Who told you to flee the wrath to come?” John saw the hardness of heart and suspected that it was not guilt or shame that brought these well-heeled religious leaders to the water’s edge.

Here are some of the lectionary readings:

Is 60:1

Luke 1:57

Mal 3:1-6

Matt 3

Mal 4

Matt 11:2-19

FOOTNOTE: I should have mentioned that the observance for St. John, Baptist is a day of precedence. That is, if it falls on a Sunday, it is (supposed to be, if the local Anglican church feels like it) comemorated in the liturgy instead of the regular Sunday readings. (This is the rule for TRADITIONAL Anglican parishes and is by no means universally blinding.)

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