After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized—John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.
Now a discussion about purification arose between John's disciples and a Jew. They came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him." John answered, "No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, 'I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.' He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease."
The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God's wrath. John 3:22-36
The true joy of a parent is to privately smile while your child does something amazing. Our three daughters have always amazed us, always and continually given us reasons to smile. We were put on this earth to give them life, strength, safety and a home while they need it. We know also that it is our great joy to step out of the light and exit offstage as they move with great agility through the world. When you love someone, when you have had the privilege to nurture them and watch them grow, it is the ultimate joy to watch them fly, and to fade into the distance with a smile on your face.
John knew his time of preparation and nurture were coming to a close. He always understood it was not about ego, competition nor accomplishment. He knew God's call to love meant to nurture, set the stage and get out of the way. True love is never about ego or competition. Genuine love is pure joy in the joy of others. We are invited today to live as John did, getting out of the way of God and letting love shine through us all.
Today I ask God to help me get out of the way, and find joy in loving completely. May we be like John, who took great joy in paving the way, and in so doing, made room for God's transforming love incarnate in Christ. May love transform us all this day.