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On the 24th of June Christians celebrate the birth of John the Baptist. In our benefice of six churches three of them are dedicated to St John the Baptist. Why was John the Baptist so popular this part of the world? The answer is that our churches were built by the Normans and they loved John the Baptist, they saw him as a great and mighty warrior a strong man to be admired. To be honest the figure of John Baptist can be a bit daunting, artists depict him as a rough and ready character. He wears a camel skin and eats locust andwild honey. He appears awkward and different unlike Jesus.

John baptised people in the river Jordan. The was important to the Jewish people because it was at this river that they had first entered their promised land. This was after the great Exodus from the desert in the days of Moses. People flocked to hear John and many became his disciples.
The biblical story of John the son of Elizabeth and Zachariah begins, even before his birth he’s leaping in his mother’s womb is seen as the great hallelujah in anticipation of the birth of the messiah Jesus Christ. All four gospel’s are interested in his story. He appears at the beginning of the story of Jesus as a forerunner he seemed to have been predestined to be a prophet of the Lord. And like the 
Old Testament prophets he encouraged the people of God to live lives worthy of their calling and in anticipation of the coming of Jesus. In the tradition of the early church John was seen as endowed with Grace from before his birth and consequently the church has always kept the celebration of this day with greater solemnity than that of his death.

In the church building the font is where we are reborn, we are washed, and we die and rise with Christ. Few people attending such a service of baptism could fail to pick up the important resonance with the Baptist’s own death, for he who baptised Jesus was in effect the first matter of the Christian church. In art John the Baptist is often depicted holding a reed with a suggestion of the cross at the top. Jesus said this of his cousin, “I tell you among those born of women none is greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Luke 27:28

John is like the Olympic athlete who carries the flame and runs into the stadium to announce the beginning of the games. Even in his death he was a forerunner by proclaiming the sort of fate that awaited Jesus for John was imprisoned and put to death too. Prophets suffer because people don’t like to hear the truth.

Click Here for to Contact Rector: Rev. David Howell
Please note that FRIDAY is my day off!

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