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Advent Meditations: Saturday, December 22By Melanie Jones
Psalm 55, 138, 139:1–17 • Isaiah 10:20–27 • Luke 3:1–9
“Believe the hype.” (John 3:1–9)
For every iconic rap artist or hip-hop entertainer, there is a hype man. Rightfully named, the hype man is designed to raise the crowd’s excitement for the main event. The audience does not always get to know the full name, story, experiences, or giftedness of the person who comes before the headliner, but the hype man’s presence matters for setting the stage and heightening the crowd’s anticipation.
Luke tells us the narrative of John the Baptist, or the one I name as the “Original Hype Man” for Jesus. Unlike other gospel writings, Luke gives us a glimpse into the angel’s prophecy to Zechariah that a miracle son named John, born to his once-barren wife, Elizabeth, will be “great in the sight of the Lord” and called to “make ready a prepared people for the Lord.”
John the Baptizer, a wilderness dweller, does not take his role as hype man lightly. John speaks to the crowds with prophetic fire, calling out social injustice and religious hypocrisy at every turn. I can hear John warning us now that the way of the Lord is sure to come, but will we, the people, be ready? John gives a fiery message to believers that if we do not bear good fruit of the gospel of Jesus in the world, then we, too, will be brought down and the faithful will be raised up.
May we hear and hearken to the voice of John the Baptist crying out to us in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord so that all will see the salvation of God. Amen.
The Rev. Melanie Jones
Crump Visiting Professor and Black Religious Scholars Group Scholar-in-Residence
Seminary of the Southwest
Listen to Melanie read her meditation and prayer:
The Rev. Melanie Jones is a womanist ethicist, millennial preacher, and intellectual activist. As an emergent scholar in theological education advocating for social transformation in the church, classroom, and global community, Jones was quickly recruited to serve on the BRSG executive board. In her role as the BRSG director of social media and public outreach, she has poised herself as a leading millennial voice with a global public platform teaching in lecture halls and preaching in pulpits across the globe and traveling to cities in North America, Australia, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Ghana, New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates. Her extensive teaching experience ranges from undergraduate teaching to graduate and seminary teaching in both face-to-face and online courses in humanities, theology, ethics, gender/sexuality studies and writing.
Jones is the co-curator of the #MillennialWomanism editorial forum, hosted on the recently launched Black Theology Project site. Her writings and sermons are accessible to scholars, students, and general society, as they are featured widely in popular digital and print publications, including The Feminist Wire, Chicago Theological Seminary Challenge & Response Magazine, The Forum for Theological Exploration Blog, Alpha Kappa Alpha Ivy Leaf Magazine, Sunday School Publishing Board — National Baptist Convention, USA, Urban Ministries, Incorporated, Urban Faith App, and ROHO. She is a third-generation Baptist preacher and the youngest ordained clergywoman at South Suburban M. B. Church in Harvey, IL, where she serves as associate minister and leads the women’s ministry. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Howard University and a Master of Divinity, with a certificate in Black church studies from Vanderbilt University Divinity School. Currently, she is a Doctor of Philosophy candidate at Chicago Theological Seminary, and she was recently named a 2017–2018 doctoral dissertation fellow by the Louisville Institute.
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