The old testament prophets were a remarkable bunch. Blokes who (on the whole) spoke truth to power and told it the way they saw it irrespective of the popularity (or otherwise) of their views.
From them we gather this image of the wild man, calling the kingdom to account, naming those things that need to be named, living beyond the community and paying the price for their profession.
And then comes John.
Another prophet from the old testament mould.
Wandering outside the community, railing against injustice, calling people to account, to turn and return.
Over the centuries, that phrase has come to be part of the english language, and used to describe anyone who is on the outside, calling out against the dominant culture, and usually being ignored.
John was crying in the wilderness.
It went so well for John, and later Jesus they both where killed for their trouble.
Who are those crying in the wilderness today? Whose are the voices we need to listen too even if the message seems unpopular?
In recent years we have seen climate change advocates move from the fringes to the centre. Even if we’re not moving fast enough for many, at least these voices from the wilderness are being heard.
How about those calling for justice and freedom for asylum seekers in the face of mass media coverage and government warnings about the dangers they represent?
Those agitating for an end to villification on the grounds of sexuality?
Those advocating for change in the church?
What about those opposing intervention in aboriginal communities?
The reality of course is that there are always people making unpopular statements, always people ‘crying in the wilderness’. And not all of them are valid or justifiable. Some are unpopular and unheard because they are wrong.
But some aren’t.
Next time you notice someone crying in the wilderness, why not listen in for a moment?