So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, added to them all by shutting up John in prison.
Personally, I’ve no great interest in New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Resolutions. The date is essentially just a number like any other; if a change is worth making, it’s worth making today rather than waiting for a new diary. Your views on both points may very well be different to mine, and that’s ok.
Suppose, though, that the turn of the year is a helpful or important point to take stock – it’s as good a day as any, and some of you will certainly feel it’s a better day than most. What sits in the “credit” column for you? How have you lived this past year, with all the difficulties we’ve experienced? What have you done that has pleased God and given glory to God? What sits in the “debit” column, for which you may yet need to confess and repent? How have you squeezed God out of your daily living, or hardened your hearts against the cries for justice from others? What do you need to change to put things right and live better in 2022?
John the Baptist had faithfully shared the Good News of Jesus to all who would listen, and had spoken prophetically about sin and wrong living. Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch or Ruler of a quarter of the Roman province, wanted to keep the news about Jesus under covers, having mocked Him and sent Him back to Pilate. He lived a self-indulgent life, without regard for others. He was politically astute, and sought to garner power for himself. Luke concludes this section of His Gospel simply: in addition to all the other evil things the Tetrarch did, he locked John up in prison.
Don’t be like Herod Antipas. Be more like John: speak of Christ, speak of truth and justice, live faithfully.
God our Father, we have sinned against you and against one another, in thought, word, and deed; we have not loved You with all our heart; we have not loved our neighbour as ourselves. But You have kept faith with us. Have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and restore us to newness of life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Prayer taken from Rejoice & Sing, 3(b))
The Revd Steve Faber is Moderator of the West Midlands Synod