Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Increase and Decrease

After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison).

Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:22-36

I have always enjoyed working back stage, making the magic happen behind the scenes. Since Junior High, I have loved putting things together, props and lighting, costumes and sound, all the things that no one ever notices from the audience. The audience focuses on the stars ad on the story if everything goes well. And there is real joy on opening night, when grubby and exhausted you know you have done a great job. A job that no one can see, but is essential to the magic, the show, the wondrous moment. Being back stage gives me an appreciation of all who stand in the shadows while others take the bows. It is a special kind of love, a special kind of dedication.

In our gospel for today we find John and Jesus at the crossroads in their ministries, and in the life of their disciples. John knows his life is in the background as Jesus, his cousin, moves onto center stage. John lives a life of love and faith and rejoices in his role as it diminishes in to the shadows. What an amazing act of love and faithfulness we see in this scene. A humility that s born out of love and trust, an act of compassion beyond all compassion.

Today I ask God to help me rejoice in all the supporting roles I have, and revel in the increase of others. May we all know that all our acts of love and faithfulness bring honor to God as we serve so that others may grow strong in their ministries. May we see all that we do, however hidden, as honored by God. And may our acts of love be blessed by our willingness to share and give love away.

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