Perhaps use “When the Man comes around.”
Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: disparities will be brought to an end. God will equalize the world. God is as much in the business of shaming the proud and arrogant and self-serving as God is lifting up the weak and powerless.
Placing this passage in history. Attention to who was ruling, who was high priest, etc. Attention to detail in order to convey the actuality of this event. It’s not a fairy tale that will make us feel better, it is a pronouncement about God’s salvation being seen by “all flesh.”
Kate Huey writes,
this is no story from someone's imagination but a real, historical, flesh-and-blood, look-these-names-up-in-a-book account that confirms that God is at work in this world, in our real situations of pain and need and injustice. This is a God who hears the cry of the people, knows the longing of their hearts, and responds to their need
Words of a prophet are full of metaphor.
What this passage means to society
What this passage means to the inner life.
John baptized in the wilderness at the Jordan river. He drew people to the boundary line of Israel. Perhaps he baptized specifically at the Jordan since it was the boundary. The boundary is where you enter or re-enter. The first time the Israelites had crossed the Jordan river with Joshua leading the generations of wanderers out of slavery, God caused the river to part so the Israelites could cross on dry land. God reminded the people of the miraculous beginning of their journey at the Reed Sea as a symbol that their wandering was over.
John brought people back to the Jordan. The people of Israel needed to be washed from that journey out of slavery and wandering. Though the dry passage over the Jordan allowed the Israelites to remember their salvation, it did not afford them the opportunity to be washed of their past. The people of Israel were still living like slaves in their own land. They were wandering without a leader like Joshua. So, he washed them in the Jordan. He washed them of the residue of slavery. He poured water over their head, and got the dust of the wandering wilderness out of their hair. He proclaimed that they were free and that when they left the water of the Jordan, they were coming forth from their mother’s womb. A new Joshua would come and would lead them.
When the new Joshua came, he told his people how deeply enslavement had pervaded. This Joshua saved them from the slavery to sin and death. He led them toward a promised land that would not and could not be conquered or colonized.
erhaps the pairing of this reading with Zechariah's exquisite canticle helps us to pull together the themes of hope and longing with the need for self-examination and preparation.