Today we continue our series of drawing inspiration from the Gospel canticles and finish the Song of Zachariah. The last lines say, “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before God to prepare their ways, to give knowledge of salvation to God’s people by the forgiveness of their sins.By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace,” (Luke 1:76-79).
The child in this passage is John who will be called the Baptist and the Forerunner. In the Christian tradition, he fulfills the words of Isaiah of “a voice crying out in the wilderness” (Isaiah 40:3). He will announce the public ministry of Jesus and baptize Jesus in the River Jordan. John is a Jew of the priestly order; he fulfills the most basic requirement to be a priest: he is the son of a priest and a prominent priest at that. His future is guaranteed. When he eventually matures and goes to the desert preaching the coming of a messiah, he simultaneously seems to be throwing away his future just as people wonder if he’s not in fact the messiah.
Though they will deny it, each generation shares at least one experience with their parents’ generation: they will, collectively, have children and have dreams for those children. I don’t have children, but I have a nephew. I imagine Jack going to the Naval Academy, studying engineering, becoming a Marine, and, after a short stint in the Marines becoming an Episcopal priest. Am I projecting? Of course, I am just as parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles always have. But when Jack becomes an accountant, an artist, or something else entirely, his parents and I will support his decisions even if we struggle to understand them. Unfortunately, not all parents and family members are that supportive.
Often when LGBTQIA+ children are targeted in schools or churches, it’s under the guise of parents losing influence over their children. If parents don’t know that their children are Queer, then how can they mold and form those children into projections of the parents’ desires and unachieved dreams? Further, if parents want carbon copies of themselves who espouse their values, then what right does a school, a church, or another organization have to encourage children to do or be otherwise?
I wonder what Zachariah and Elizabeth, John’s parents, said when their son donned animal skins, moved to the desert, at locust and wild honey, and preached about the coming of a messiah. Was he just finding himself or was this maybe a phase? Did Zachariah shake his head disapprovingly? Did Elizabeth dodge questions about what John was doing? Or did they embrace their arguably eccentric son and love him all the same? I hope it was the latter.
Who do you have dreams about? Who had or has dreams about you?
Let us pray: God of expectations and God of possibilities, reveal in us the stories you are co-creating. Show us the influence that others have and help us discern good advice. Strengthen us when we influence others. May our words be your words and may those who hear us know the difference. Amen.
Blessing, friends, on your weeks. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.