Being the Alarm
May the Lord God of Israel be blessed indeed! For God’s intervention has begun, and God has moved to rescue us, the people of God. … And you, my son, will be called the prophet of the Most High. For you will be the one to prepare the way for the Lord, so that the Lord’s people will receive knowledge of their freedom through the forgiveness of their sins. All this will flow from the kind and compassionate mercy of our God. A new day is dawning: the Sunrise from the heavens will break through in our darkness, and those who huddle in night, those who sit in the shadow of death, will be able to rise and walk in the light, guided in the pathway of peace. – Luke 1:68 & 76-79 (VOICE)
Let’s be honest: nobody ever wants to be John the Baptist. He’s the prophet with the street corner address, wild eyes, and odd smell. He points to a mystery others ridicule. Even his followers cannot protect him from state execution.
It’s like that, though, for those who are the first to know that change is coming. They are the sensitive canaries who risk suffocation in order to signal what is to come. They are the ones called to fly close enough to bear witness to the rising Sun/Son.
Bishop Yvette Flunder often says, “The only difference between a heretic and a prophet is time.” She’s right. I wonder: can we rejoice, like Zechariah did, about the dawn of God’s intervention, even if it means people will point, stare, doubt, and ignore now and believe later?
God, we’re so grateful for your persistent interventions in our world. When we hear the divine alarm, help us resist the urge to hit snooze. When it’s our turn to be the divine alarm, give us the stamina to keep ringing. Amen.
Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart is a Black queer preacher, teacher, and agitator. She is an adjunct professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University and is the founder of Salt | Yeast | Light, where she develops spaces of theological candor, disruption, reflection, transformation, and public action.