Every four years our country makes a show of sending the presidential candidates through the rural villages of Iowa and New Hampshire. For a few fleeting moments, common people seem to matter. They have a voice in Ottumwa. Individuals in Concord can ask the next president if he or she knows the price of a gallon of milk. Yet the Bible speaks about the voice in the wilderness as being something more than just symbolic. We are all made to travel through wilderness from time to time. Life is enriched by trauma and displacement. There the soft voice of God has a chance to rise above the static. John the Baptist isn’t just a foot note in the story of Christ. He is an embodiment of all the reasons that God sends us out into the wilderness.
I am hoping that the candidates learn some humility during their trek through small town America. Jesus and the multitudes went out into the wilderness to see John the Baptist. Since they walked, it took some time. Advent is intended to be this way. Our experience should teach us the deep and quiet things of life. We should enter the New Year more rooted than we are today. Similarly, the candidates for our nation’s highest office should reach Super Tuesday on March 1st chastened by what the most reflective rural folk have said to them. One can only hope.
The voice in the wilderness may be for us that relative we are not looking forward to seeing this holiday season. The voice in the wilderness may come to us late at night, when we ask ourselves if we are really ready to have God pitch his tent among us. The voice in the wilderness may already be on the lips of thousands of Syrian refugees. I don’t know. But I plan to stop and listen.