John the Baptist proven to be the humblest by st Benedict

Today I thought we could talk about John and humility. 

That’s because I love john the Baptist, one of the most humble people in the bible.

  You may wonder why I think that? 


To prove that 

We are going to explore that connection in the most book of common prayer/Anglican ways/ We will delve into the world of St benedict, founder of the Benedictine monks in the 5th century an creator of the rule of benedict, which unchanged has been the bedrock of Benedictine monasteries.

If your wondering why that way

Well it’s because Benedict and anglicanism, are inseparable  its because we have to understand benedict to understand the church of England. Thomas Cranmer who created the book of common prayer and a large part of the way we carry on , Cranmer used Benedict as a framework, and shamelessly borrowed from him.

The Book of common prayer is basically  a softened version of the rule of Benedict.    For instance The names of our services come from Benedict, where Benedict has 7 services, we have three, 

Benedictine monks read the psalms in a week, cranmer spread that over a month. 

When we do lectio divina we most commonly read a passage 2-3 times, benedict gets it read 7 times and so on.   

Benedict wanted a community that was guided by and aware of scripture, cranmer used this idea and used it to power the English reformation and got everyone in church hearing scripture, and wanted the community of the uk led by it. However not everyone is called to be a monk so he softened it a bit.

So when we look at the word humility doing it from a Benedictine perspective is very close to doing so from an church of England one,

One of the core concepts that any Benedictine monk has to learn is humility, and I think like so much of benedict it provides us a good framework to build on to understand what biblical humility truly means. Then I think we will see that John fits the bill as a humble person.

Benedict explains his 12 pillars of humility in 5th century English, so we will use a modern day abbot (head man in a monastery) description of what we should do with it.  Abbott Christopher Jameson tries to help us understand what Benedictine concept of humility is about.  Lets see how it fits with John

  • The world Humble comes from the Latin Humus which means soil. So better interpreted being humble means being “down to earth”.
    • John is down to earth, he doesn’t wear fancy clothes, and he point away from himself at all times. He isn’t pretentious.
  • Being humble is not being passive, this is apathy.
    • John is very active but actively preparing the way and point to Jesus 
  • Humility is the task of remembering we are not the centre of the universe. Often when we come into conflict when you search for the cause, someone somewhere has seen their needs as greater, than those of others. It may be ourselves.
    • John always put himself second to Jesus 
  • In Good to great a book that has led to the creation of many successful companies the idea of a humble leader is seen as one of the core things that leads to success. Extreme personal humility paired with extreme personal self-will.  However the will is not for the self, but for the success of the company as a whole.
    • This is so John he is all about the success of the mission and not of himself. He was succeeding and built quite a following of his own
  • Being humble may not be being quiet or introverted.
    • I think you can see joh both ways when he was up in the mountain and the charismatic leader
  • The world rightly rejects humiliation, and we fear that pursuing humility opens the door to the other. Humility is being down to earth and pointing away from yourself it is not humiliation.
    • John was never see as a person that was humiliated, despite his humility we to this day see john as true to himself and Jesus a person of value.  As jesus said no greater man than jon
  • When the devil tempted Adam and Eve, he taught them the sin of pride. They forgot they were Humus, of the earth

So I hope that’s maybe shared a thought on what humility is, as the guys that built the framework of our church, many successful companies and Jesus put such store by it. Humility, remember jesus first words on the sermon on the mount were “Blessed are the meek”   for they shall inherit the earth. So much truth in that, and 2000 years later we find out it’s the core of building massive companies and in building a foundation for how to behave in the context of our faith!

Why did John call him the “Word” and the “Light”

Up until now all, our Christmas stories began at the stable, or with the wise men, or with Mary’s divine conception and so on.
John starts way before any of them , Johns’s story begins before he was called Jesus, before he joined us…John starts at the very beginning of everything , where Jesus started time, where everything came into being through him.
Before he was Jesus , So he calls him – the word,
The Greek for “word” is Logos, which means logic and reason.
So , Jesus is the reason, the logical reason it all began

And John calls him the source of it all. Cos next John days saying all life came from him, and began with him, . . Jesus is the source and the reason for it all. Without him, nothing came into being.

So when we start Jesus story at the manger, that’s very far from the truth. It’s just where he joined us . Jesus had no beginning, he was the beginning, and he will come again at the end.
Then he calls Jesus the light.

Which is another strange name . Why would you call someone the light?

I had a caravan when I was a kid and it was stupendously dark some nights. You woke up and literally you could not see a hand in front of your face, the proper absence of light you rarely see these days.

However we had calor gas lights, and even the first one coming on extinguished the darkness, the smallest match killed that darkness stone dead. The presence of light, killed nothingness of the dark, the absence of light was taken away by the smallest spark.
So really what we call darkness, like a darkness of the soul is really an absence, of anything. Darkness isn’t active it’s passive.

Jesus is the light, the reverse of an absence, a presence. His presence contains, love, morality, a path to eternal life, order, compassion, empathy, and salvation. All of these things are the reverse of nothing, and even a little of them where these things are absent totally changes things.

Is it any wonder then that people who live in the dark hate the light, because they know even the smallest spark ruins it totally and we can never now know it again.
Is it any wonder that albeit he was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him?

Because the dark which is an absence cannot know anything, because its an absence of reason, chaos cant understand order, the absence of love cannot understand love when it see it. All it see’s is its own demise. That’s why he wasn’t accepted by all and still isn’t. Because darkness cannot accept light, it can only be extinguished by it. Its such a dramatic change from even the smallest light, and Jesus was the source of all light and life and is.

So in John Jesus is the source of everything, the reason for everything, and the thing that banished the darkness of our souls. And he decided to lay in the cradle tonight. Everything became contained in a small child. Why would he do this, through love. So that he can understand and know his creation, and save it from itself, from its absence of love.

he knew his message wouldn’t be enough, so he chose to die to forgive us our lapses, but now his message is a thing in this world, and like a small light in the darkness you cant ignore it, and we cant go back into darkness.

That’s what happened tonight, in a world where love was absent, love came into the world and joined us and we can never know a world without love ever again. This is why john called him the reason, the logos, because he is the reason we know what love truly is.

His life with us he explained what we had to do, showed us what we had to do and lived like we have to do. All of these things are the opposite of nothing, the example once set can never be unset, the darkness of the absence of knowing and now these things can never be unknown and defeated.

We all know this love in our lives, we all know his presence, we will know him forever for all eternity, that’s how long his light will last once it was lit on this night.

Our task is to share that light with whoever we meet, to be the reverse of an absence of love and make that light fill all the places where love is absent,