I have always found John the Baptist to be a fascinating person as he lived a simple life, clothed himself with what he found, and nourished himself with simple food, but most of all he didn’t mince words. In today’s vernacular, he told it like it is.

He may have been forthright in his ministry, but he was driven to prepare the way, because he knew who he was, a humble servant of God and he knew the one who was coming after him. He knew the blessings he would bring.

John’s life was all about preparation for the day he would meet the messiah. The time he would spend going through the land proclaiming the coming messiah, and the need for everyone to be prepared to greet him when he arrived.

Many listened to what he had to say and they prepared themselves as they went to him ein masse to receive Baptism by water and as a result were ready to greet Christ. The act of Baptism was the first step back then, just as it is for countless people today.

It’s undeniable that our preparations in recent times have been different to what would normally be happening, whether it is because you’re working from home, been furloughed, unemployed, been told to isolate because you or one of your family or friends, may have been infected, or indeed are currently suffering with Covid.

As part of that the church as a whole is seeing a greater number of people looking toward it for prayer, guidance and for comfort in these days of uncertainty. Perhaps part of this is because for many it is instinct to turn to God in times of great trial. For others they are looking for assurance and stability when things are changing so rapidly. One day we can do this, then the next it’s all different.

People are apprehensive about whether they are going to hear the message saying, please isolate. For those countless people who have not been able to see loved ones in person for such a long time, this may be the tip of the iceberg. I am sure that many would have other doubts and fears that could be added to this.

We are slowly starting to see glimmers of hope with a number of vaccines showing positive signs and then being distributed. It is these glimmers of hope that are keeping many people going at this time, the hope of a better future, one without restrictions and regulations.

As Christians, we also have hope, hope in Christ, the one who came down to earth to show the world a better way. There can be no doubt that when this little child was born, the world changed irrevocably, and continues to do so even today.

We need time to look deep within ourselves and ask, have we done all that we can? Have we lived the life that our faith expects of us?

In a year when so much has been asked of so many, the sacrifices that have been made, the challenges that we have faced and risen to accomplish, the new technologies that we have fought with as we learned how to use them, and the new ways that we have found to work, and interact with each other, it is clear that we have changed and adapted.

As we enter the Epiphany season may I ask that you spend 5 or 10 minutes each day in prayer. Pray for the world, pray for each other, pray for someone you know who is struggling and pray for yourself, that you would know the peace and love of Christ in your own life. If you want to pray longer, then please do. Do what is sustainable for you.

photo credit James C. Pearson