Ecclesia Irritans

Ecclesia Irritans

Sunday, December 8, 2002
| Mark 1:1-8

Corporations have a tendency to function either as clumsy elephants, or agile fleas, says one leading observer of business life in America. The church is much the same. John the Baptist, himself a flea in the hair of the religious establishment, urges us to discover our inner flea-ness.

Out of the wilderness it comes.

It's a pesky little nano-bug, known for making people uncomfortable, itchy and annoyed. Once you've been bitten by this critter, you know it, and you fall into spasms of scratching in a desperate attempt to find relief.

We're talking about the flea here. The human flea, to be exact. Scientific name: Pulex irritans. You can't claw yourself out of a flea infestation. You need a flea dip.

Out of the wilderness he came. John the Baptist was a kind of human flea in the hair of his people, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. His challenging words made people feel terribly uncomfortable, and no doubt some were annoyed by his unusual appearance, and by his itchy and socially unacceptable clothing of camel's hair.

He was a Prophet irritans.

But no amount of scratching could remove the discomfort created by his words. He spoke a nagging truth about the need to repent, so people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of...

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