John the Baptist gets big billing in our lectionary, that must mean something.
Prepare the way, make straight the path, repent, rejoice, look.
The thing about the Christian promise is that it is there for everyone, no one is excluded from it, regardless of who you are you can look at Jesus and call him Lord, believe in him, and follow him, it is remarkably simple.
However, you can only see him to look at if the way isn’t clouded and made more complex than it should be. You can only call him Lord if the hypocrisy of others who call him Lord isn’t denying his Lordship. You can only believe in him if the Good News of love, justice, freedom is witnessed and alive. You can only follow him if those who already do so are walking a straight path.
John the Baptist gets such a high billing, in my opinion, because he is a warning to the Church. A warning to keep focused on what is important not to ourselves, but to Christ. A warning to keep on the straight path and clear it of all that hides it or makes traveling along it difficult if not impossible. A warning that if we think we have got it all sorted and know it all and therefore don’t need redeemed then just how can we rejoice in our own Redemption when Christ appears. A warning to remember the plank in our own eye before pointing out the speck in someone elses.