December 18 - John The Baptist
The seashell, especially the scallop, is the symbol of baptism in Christianity. It is also used to symbolise pilgrimage because St James used a scallop shell during his pilgrimage to beg for food and water. Even the poorest people could fill the small shell, so he always found help along his way.
Luke 3:1-19, Matthew 3:1-12
Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son John grew up just as God had promised and chose to live in the wilderness where he dressed in rough and coarse clothing and lived off the land. Matthew tells us his coat was woven from camel hair and he ate honey and locusts. That was not as remarkable as his message. Crowds came to see him and to listen to his talks. He was not very polite, he told people exactly what God thought of the way that they behaved and told them in no uncertain terms that they should stop doing wrong things and do what they knew to be right, following the basic rule of loving God and caring for other people.
Tax collectors, John proclaimed should not cheat people, collecting only as much as they should; soldiers should not bully and frighten people, but act honestly. But his worst criticism was reserved for the people who thought they were being very religious but did not care about other people.
He offered individuals the chance to be baptised in the Jordan river as a sign showing that they were sorry and wanted to make a new start. A symbol of belonging that is still used by Christians today.
This is the Collect (a special prayer said in the Church of England) said when the birth of John the Baptist is celebrated in June
Very soon it is going to be New Year when people think about making new year resolutions – a fresh start. What fresh starts could you make that show that you love God and care for other people?
Why not draw or colour a picture of John baptising people in the river while you think about it?