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The Liturgical Calendar: The Church Remembers

Today the church remembers The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist.

The prophet and forerunner of Jesus was his cousin, John, the only child of Elizabeth and Zechariah. He is sometimes called the last and the greatest of the prophets. John lived very plainly, wearing “camel’s hair and a leather girdle” and eating “locusts and wild honey.” He preached repentance and called upon people to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. He baptized his followers to signify their repentance and new life. Hence he was called John the Baptist. Jesus himself was baptized by John in the River Jordan. John had many followers, at least some of whom became Christians. He preached strongly against the notorious sins of King Herod and was finally beheaded by the king at the request of his daughter Salome.

John figures prominently in the New Testament, and Luke gives us an account of his nativity. His parents were elderly at the time of his birth. His father, a priest of the temple in Jerusalem, was struck dumb in a vision foretelling John’s birth and did not speak again until the baby was born. The magnificent canticle, Benedictus Dominus Deus (The Book of Common Prayer, pp. 50, 92), is attributed to Zechariah, the joyful father.

John is particularly remembered during Advent as a prophet and during Epiphany as the baptizer of Jesus.

May we announce the Messiah with boldness, that the world might know the saving power of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

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