Monday, January 12, 2009
"I will send my messenger ahead if you, who will prepare your way." Mark 1:2
Yesterday began with ice and freezing rain and kept many people indoors away from church. I was supposed to go and be part of a wonderful service in a wonderful community. Every exit from our house was covered with ice, and no one was moving on the roads except for town plows, when we were supposed to be going. I stayed home, and ached all day about missing it. The sun broke through later on in the day and everything seemed bright and wonderful, although there was much treacherous going on underfoot everywhere. The paths were not clear and the way ahead covered with ice. I pondered all day long if I should have braved the ice, and wondered if I have gotten too cautious and careful in my old age. Although it was the right decision, I know that, I spent all day wondering. When I was younger, I would have run out the door, no fear of falling, strapping on a sled or skates and rejoiced in the weather. I would have ignore signs and voices calling to me to take care. Now, I am the voice of caution, preparation and care.
Today, as we look again on the scriptures concerning the baptism of Jesus, we hear that God prepared a way for the Son of man, Savior of the world. Jesus did not begin his ministry until after John had drawn people out to the desert, away from their comfort, to prepare their hearts and souls for Jesus. He heard their confessions and baptized them. His work was that of a messenger, a herald and the one who cleared the way and made the path straight. Jesus took his time to be ready, and after the baptism by John, went into the desert and was tempted by Satan for forty days. The wild animals protected him and angels attended him. We humans, especially church leaders, lay and ordained alike, can expect more of ourselves than the Son of God expected from himself. Preparation for great tasks takes a great amount of time. Serving God in this world and carrying the message of Jesus' love for all can be a great joy and a tremendous burden. We can be sorely tempted. None of us have more than a few wild animals for protection, and we are rarely visited by angels. We can be tempted to think ourselves as powerful as God, and chastise ourselves for faithlessness when we are cautious or careful with our bodies or our families. Jesus took rest and refreshment. He took the time and care, so that the Good News might be delivered.
Today, I want to be grateful for the time to take care. I want to enjoy the sunshine when it is there, and rejoice in the warmth and safety of home when it is available. I pray that we can all act as agents of God's love for one another, by tending gently to one another, preparing the way for God's love and by taking care of our bodies and souls alike. Taking rest and refreshment is necessary for the God News to go forth. May we, in this season of blinding cold and inner warmth, take time to mend and tend. May we take time to tell the stories around the fire. May we rekindle love today, so that it might flourish across our communities.