Pastoral Notes August 28th, 2016

August Saint
The feast of the ‘Beheading’ of St John the Baptist, his martyrdom, falls this year on a Sunday (29th August) and so will not be publicly celebrated – and St John remains something of an enigma. Among the many ancient monuments in Israel and Jordan preserved today is one of King Herod’s (ruined) castles, overlooking the famous Dead Sea, which literally has no fish in it because of the high percentage of chemicals, supporting a local industry. Tourists who take a dip in the Sea have showers on the shore to wash themselves down afterwards. The loneliness of St John’s death is highlighted by the castle being high up on the top of a mountain-range. It is on the opposite side of the ‘Sea’ that another high range of hills were explored in the 1940s and the ancient ‘Dead Sea scrolls’ were discovered, revealing the presence of a Jewish religious sect which cut itself off from the rest of the people. St John instead devoted his life to the people and so welcomed the Saviour.