“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’ ”
The world needs waymakers just like John the Baptist. We need courageous voices who will speak not just a good word for Jesus Christ, as my former homiletics professor used to say, but a prophetic word. A pointed word. Direct. Clear. Uncompromising.
One such waymaker in 2017 is the Rev. Dr. William Barber, an ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Dr. Barber has taken up the call to lead the Poor People’s Campaign, originally began by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967. He has brought to the national conversation a message that is biblical, moral, and Gospel-oriented.
The call by the Poor People’s Campaign for a moral revival is as timely as ever in these United States where economic disparity continues to widen, the dialogue is toxic, civil rights are threatened, healthcare is still out of reach among poorest citizens, and racial tension persists. The rotting of the American soul is further manifested in the dehumanizing treatment (especially by President Trump and some congressional leaders) of women, immigrants, Muslims, and the LGBTQ community. This is not the Way of Jesus. In fact, it’s immoral and rooted in evil.
If the Advent/Christmas season is merely a celebration of some magical event in the distant past then the point has been missed. The voice of the first-century waymaker prepared the people for the one who calls us to a wholly different way of life. Holy. Peaceful. Generous. Compassionate. Just
If the voice of John the Baptist is to be heard today, we need to bridge the span of time so his message can “cut us to the bone” (Joseph Donders). That’s precisely why we need more voices like William Barber.
May we be inspired and compelled by those who serve as 21st-century waymakers to go and do likewise.