What do St. John the Baptist, the season of Advent and Johnny Cash have in common? You’d be surprised! Lori Erickson, from her Holy Rover blog, draws the parallel in this fascinating post:
For those of you out there who are churchy types, you know that we’re now in the season of Advent. While the rest of the world is singing Christmas carols and reveling in the sweetness of the season, the liturgical calendar focuses on the so-called Little Apocalypse (which warns of great tribulation to come) and John the Baptist (the person you least want to show up at your annual Christmas party, what with his poor grooming habits and fondness for “brood of vipers” metaphors). The reason for the somber tone is that in the church year, this is meant to be a time of waiting and repentence, a period meant to prepare ourselves for the coming of mystery.
Several years ago I was trying to find an example of how the message of John the Baptist might be interpreted in today’s idiom, and I kept coming back to Johnny Cash: the man in black, the sinner who found salvation, the singer with that exquisite, rough-hewn voice. I remember that when he died a few years ago, there was a vivid line in an obituary for him–”It takes a sinner,” it said, “to see the blinding light of grace.”
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