Gospel Luke 1.57-66
A Story about a man named John & Sct. Hans
Today Gospel that I just read is the beginning of the story about a man named John. Look at the cover of the beautiful bulletin for this Sunday Service, and read with me: HIS NAME IS JOHN.
Do you know anyone named John?
Are there anyone present today named John?
When I was preparing the sermon for this Sunday I was thinking about all the different men named John that in some way are famous or important.
v The founding father John Adams
v The president John Kennedy
v The comedian John Cleese
v The Beatle John Lennon
v The authors John Steinbeck, John Tolkien and John Irving
v The pianists John Legend and Elton John
v The actors John Travolta, and John Wayne
v The soccer players John Faxe, John Sivebaek,
Their names were John. And today’s gospel is the story of the beginning of the life of a small boy named John and the prophesy of how is life will be.
The parents of the boy and the man called John, were Elisabeth and Zechariah. They were devout Jews. Zechariah served as a priest in the beautiful Jerusalem temple and his wife Elisabeth was his faithful helper. The lives of both Zacharias and Elisabeth were pleasing to God. They worshipped God, they lived according to God’s commandments, they were good examples to everyone in their village and in their temple.
Zachariah= God remembers
Elisabeth= a promise of God
Zechariah had his prayers miraculously answered in his old age. Zacharias and Elisabeth were esteemed and respected members of the community, but that this no say that they did not have any problems. They had one big sadness in their lives: they never had any children. And now, they were getting older, yes actually too old to become parents. But impossible things to happen. Miracles happens. Just like Elisabeth’s very young cousin Mary miraculously were to give birth to Jesus, so it happened that Elisabeth got pregnant. Even if she was barren and way to old to bear children.
So the joy, the faith, the hope, the excitement, the wonder and the love was intense and overwhelming for both of them. For so many years they had hoped to become parents. For so many years they had lived with their sadness – and now as by a miracle the impossible happen. And when time came, Elisabeth gave birth and she bore a son.
When they brought the little boy to their temple to be circumcises as custom was, to be blessed and presented, everyone assumed as custom also said, that the boy would be named after his father, Zachariah. But Elisabeth said: No, he is to be called John. And the question was asked the proud father, and he repeated: His name is John.
The name John is Hebrew and it means “ God is gracious.” So, it was indeed a very fitting name for the little boy who was a blessing, a grace and a miracle to both his parents.
John grew up in the same time as Jesus. But when Jesus were growing up with his parents in Nazareth, and then later in adult life began to walk the dusty roads of Israel to villages and cities, visiting homes and gathering crowds, - John was a loner. He lived in the desert, secluded from others. He ate honey and insects. And he was dressed in cloth of camel hair.
He often went to the river Jordan, and at the banks of Jordan he preached and shouted: Repent, make a change, be baptized! And many followed him, were baptized and began a new life.
His name was John. And in Danish he is called Johannes. And short of Johannes is Hans.
Which leads me to Skt. Hans – the Danish Midsummer which we celebrated here at the church yesterday with bonfire, dinner, singing and burning a witch and sending her and everything evil with her to Bloksbjerg or Hekkenfeldt .
Midsummer is the middle of the summer celebrated on June 24 and the day is named after John or Johannes or Hans. Skt. Hans. It is named after his birth exactly ½ before Dec. 24 when his even more famous second cousin Jesus was born on Dec.24 .
So Sankt Hans in the Midsummer and Christmas in the winter are strongly related. And so are the names of John and Jesus.
We celebrate the light and the birth of Jesus at Christmas, - and we celebrate the light and the birth of John at Skt. Hans.
There is a lot in both names: John and Jesus.
But both are light seekers and light givers.
“ By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Today, remembering the man named John and his mission, we will sing about the man named Jesus, whom John prepared the way for and whom he believed like we do to be the savior and the light of the world. Amen