In her sermon, “Is Fruitcake Really a Gift?”, on the Third Sunday of Advent, December 13, 2015, Pastor Jana Purkis-Brash compared John the Baptist to fruitcake.
While fruitcake may be a gift for some, for others it is not, and indeed, some like it, others do not. At the suggestion that the Christmas fruitcake is some weird kind of cake, some would say the same about John the Baptist, that he was weird. He might even be called a fruitcake. He lived in the desert, ate locust and wild honey, had a long beard and dressed in camel hair. He preached a strange message about repentance and baptized people from their sins. On street corners, his message would have been: “Repent, Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is near. Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!”
John the Baptist was the “appetizer” for God telling the people to flee the wrath that is to come. His message was prophetic: Repent! Repent! Repent! He promised repentance for the forgiveness of sins. In this regard, John the Baptist is a fruitcake that is loved. He baptized with water but also preached about the One who is to come – the Messiah – who will re-baptize us with the Holy Spirit. Luke 3: 7-18. He speaks not only to us but for us. He is the psychologist for us. He completely immersed those he baptized, holding them under water long enough. This way, they knew what death by drowning is like. They understood that the end was coming. At the same time, they received new life in Jesus Christ.
While some people liked John the Baptist, others – like the Pharisees and those who did not share John’s eagerness for the coming Messiah – not so much. His message of repentance, along with the good news was untenable to people who did not believe they were doing wrong. John the Baptist’s message is forever on the table: “Repent! Turn away from sin”.
Fruitcake is not most people’s favorite gift. John the Baptist, like the Christmas fruitcake, is not everyone’s favorite, appearing, making a few more appearances, disappearing during Advent and then fading away. However, during this holiday season we are called to share the gift of Christmas with one another.