This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, "I am not the Messiah." And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" He answered, "No." Then they said to him, "Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,'" as the prophet Isaiah said. Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, "Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" John answered them, "I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal." This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing .John 1:19-28
I am in Oklahoma City, here to collaborate with amazing Native scholars on a book of Indigenous Theology. I am thrilled by the opportunity and scared at the same time. There is much I want to get right and much I want to learn from others. None of us is the expert, and we will work together to develop common themes and directions. We are gathered, as it were, in a wilderness of thoughts and ideas, a place and time with much resources and abundance. I want to help make a path to understanding the heart of God together with these people. And it seems an impossible task.
John was baptizing, and inviting people to turn their hearts to God and neighbor. He did not claim to be the one, or the only way to God. He was doing his part to prepare people for the arrival of Jesus. He was helping them be ready for an intimate encounter with the living God, one who is not bound by cultures and rules, but rather is bound only by love and life. Each of us are invited by John to prepare the way, since God is daily coming close to us, renewing us in every encounter.
Today, as the sun sets in this ancient place, I ask God to help me walk and live with an open heart. May our spirits listen for the harmony from the heart of God. May we ever invite others to a closer walk with the Divine, in the midst of every wilderness and new place.