Another slightly humorous treatment of a serious subject. Inspired by a college sermon of mine on St John the Baptist’s feast day in 1983.
I met with John the Baptist the other day…
He was holding interviews down our way.
I had a personal invite, and what’s more:
I bought some honey from my local store.
I even thought about some locusts too,
But wasn’t so keen on going to the zoo.
What do you get the man who has nothing?
And would I get any thanks for bothering?
I had rehearsed: formal, chatty, off the cuff?
Dress code: suit, hair shirt, in the buff?
Just how does one talk to spiritual elite?
Small talk, piety, not sounding too effete…
My biggest smile, honey pot to the fore,
Confidently, I went and knocked his door.
“How’s it goan Bappy?” My opening shot;
High fives? A solemn regard was all I got.
The great man was looking somewhat gloomy;
Studying a big book entitled ‘your resume’.
My face was flushing red, I felt rather funny;
I fumbled, deciding to hide away the honey.
“This present moment is all you have, you know;
The eternal harvest starts here with what you sow.
You’re neither hot nor cold, you coast through life;
Opportunities missed, sins of omission rife.”
Scripture calls him ‘a sharpened arrow’;
He certainly cuts through bone to marrow.
There are no ifs and buts with this holy man,
It’s straight down the middle, understand.
“I go… to church… every week… ” I stammered;
Mumbling about prayer as my chest hammered.
He came to me, lean hands gripping like a vice;
And hushed me with a look of warm attentiveness.
“Pilgrim, are you with Jesus or are you not?
Here now, everything else matters not a jot.
Tell me: is He really the Lord of your life?
First before family, friends and even wife?”
I was dumbstruck – no chat about the weather;
Full frontal assault – no time for common blether.
“Now hold on Bap… I mean, Mr Baptist sir…
I’m a normal bloke, inclined to err.
Nowadays we’re wiser, more rounded than before;
Avoiding the crazy stunts of those saints of yore.
Psychology tells us to be balanced and mellow:
Avoid what leads to being a neurotic fellow.
No point in Christianity being seen as odd;
Commonsense rejects a fundamentalist God.
Softly, softly – now that’s the modern approach;
In-your-face preaching brings quick reproach.”
I thought my defence was pretty neat and cool,
Though I wasn’t dealing with just any fool:
“You must make the leap of faith – Jesus’
Lordship of one’s life completes and frees us.
To put on the mind of Christ is our highest goal,
And in no way warps or corrupts the human soul.
Fanatics, extremists, lack the humility to wait
On Spirit’s grace, to grow in love and lessen hate.
Don’t let Satan’s – may I say that? – clever ploy
Of being lukewarm, effectively destroy,
The fruit of grace in your innermost self,
And consign God’s kingdom to the back shelf.
Your days are rushing by, the hour is nigh,
Awake from your slumber, the stakes are high!
Resisting what’s right is moral cowardice.
Oh, by the way, the honey would be nice!”