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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Comiskey

Desert Witness: Solitary and Free

“Who are you…what do you have to say for yourself? ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness…’” (Jn. 1:22-23).

Advent pops our holiday bubble, cracks our globe of fake snow, and gives us John the Baptist. Twice. Half of Advent centers on this burning bush who blazes for the One-to-come.


John exposes our need to be saved. Again. To do so, this desert witness stands alone and reveals our deserts. He invites us to come away from the party into solitude to face inconvenient truth and the wonder of His love.


Morphing into a ‘gay’ teen in junior high, I recall my newly converted grandmother wailing at a pre-Christmas gathering over her unbelieving kids (my aunt and dad); both were cold to Christ and warm on booze and materialism. Unable to reach them, she cried late at night—loudly. I went to bed a little scared. Why was she crying?  


My eldest brother Jay began to drive her and friends to Pentecostal healing meetings where he caught the Jesus-bug. Fast forward 3 years: Jay too broke down at a holiday gathering in tears and anger for his family refusing the Jesus-thing. My brother Joel and I were high on something or another. We laughed then got mad that ‘Jesus’ was wrecking another Christmas. Late that night I wondered who Jesus was.


Burning bushes both! How blessedly disturbed are we who behold these Johns ‘standing before us, solitary, austere, weathered by the storms and loneliness of the desert—but authentic’ (Fr. Alfred Delp). The tender indignation of Grandma and brother levelled ground for Jesus.


My daughter creates level paths as she coordinates our local Living Waters group. She leads the team in pre-gathering prayer by declaring God’s goodness. She aligns us with Him—Lord of Life, able to dispel the pollutants she (we) collected over a long, uneven day. We praise Him. Then she leads out with a confession: she admits how she choked, faltered, failed to ‘hold the charge’ of His marvelous love that day. She weeps a bit. That frees the rest of us to admit the holes in our armor. Blessed gaps. Misery invites mercy. Leveled, we are ready to impart healing. Katie blazes the way.  


Marco waxed ‘John the Baptist’ at his wedding to Ania, exactly a year ago in Krakow. (Happy First Anniversary, you two…) As he toasted the crowd, he went out on a limb to declare God assuming flesh in Christ (the Incarnation) as key to reconciling all of us to good flesh, our sexual humanity. He got specific: Jesus broke the grip of his homosexuality and freed him to embrace Ania. Not too much information. Not for forerunners like John the Baptist. Like Marco Casanova. Ania’s family and some family friends from Texas discovered something new about Jesus and Marco that night.


Burning bush in truth. What may seem merely too personal for a wedding (how Jesus transforms disordered sexual identity) is an affront to thoughtful young Christians today. Most conclude that a person’s longstanding same-sex desires are destiny, impermeable to Jesus who yes, rose from the dead and maybe even is alive and well in the Host but can’t touch identity confusion.


Advent reasserts the truth, exposes our inertia, tempers holiday highs, and invites us down to the One worthy of our surrender. Katie gets it: He is the Ultimate before whom authentic ones witness the gap and bow before Him.


‘Oh, that once again people could readily perceive our enthrallment, our true, ultimate allegiance to this One, to this Christ, in whose Advent we stand! Our confession is our very being, consecrated by the Lord God, testifying for itself and for the Lord God, for Christ, who is our mystery but who is also our strength and our certainty, and whose Advent alone is the one and only salvation of the world’ (Fr. Alfred Delp, Advent Homily, December 14th, 1941).  

Join Andrew on Desert Streaming each week as he dives deeper into his blog. Watch here or listen on Spotify or Apple (or wherever you get your podcasts).


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