“My Uncle, John the Baptist”
Sermon based on Isaiah 40:1-8, Luke 3:1-22, Rev. 14:7
Rev. Paul E. Capetz
Christ Church by the Sea (United Methodist),
Newport Beach December 15, 2019
I’ll bet you didn’t know that my uncle was John the Baptist. Well, he was. It’s just that he was a different John the Baptist from the one Jesus knew. You see, I had an uncle named John who was a Baptist. But Uncle John was not just a Baptist; I mean, he exemplified everything negative we Methodists thought about the Baptists: he was self-righteous, dogmatic, ready to point the finger at the sins of others, quite certain that he knew the Bible better than other people and that his interpretation of it was the only correct one, and that the Baptist Church was therefore the only true, Bible-believing church. So, behind his back, some of the rest of us in the family used to call him “John the Baptist,” though he never heard us call him that, which is a good thing, because this was actually our way of making fun of him.
In part this sermon is my way of trying to come to terms with the impact of my uncle in my life. And, in part, it is also an apology to him of sorts. I think I understand him a lot better now than I did when as a child and a teen-ager. At any rate, even though I will talk about what I thought back then and still think today were his faults, I speak of him this morning with complete love and compassion for him since I now realize he had a very hard life and that his suffering contributed to some of those sides of his personality that were difficult for the rest of us to bear.