Friday, July 8, 2011

Starting Over

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness:‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’” John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. Mark 1:1-13

I sometimes wish I had a big etch-a-sketch for life. The big do-over. Hold the mess of the week or the year over your head and shake it away. Start over. Several years ago, I had a little etch-a-sketch that was pocket size. One night I sat in our family room and drew on it. Eventually, I recreated the last supper. It was simple in outline with no real details, but recognizable none the less. I left it as it was and told those present not to erase it. It stayed there for a long time. And then one day it was accidentally knocked out of place and the great work of art disappeared into oblivion. Much like our lives, we struggle to create something wonderful, try to hold onto it for as long as possible and then by accident or intention it is over. We have to start over, redefine the goals and create new art work and a new life for ourselves.

We are in the part of the daily cycle when we start over. The flowing, artful words of the former Gospel are retold in stark simplicity in Mark's Gospel. The story is the same but different. There is a new audience, and a different perspective. The story telling looks different although the characters are the same. John comes, telling his story and Jesus comes to be baptized and goes directly to the desert and is tempted. A "just the facts ma'am" approach to telling this amazing story. And in so doing, the gospeler allows room for us to start over, to re-imagine, to bring different colors and perspectives to what we see and hear in the Gospel. The starkness becomes an invitation to creativity and new insight.

Today I want to live as though every challenge I face is an opportunity to re-imagine and create (with the Creator) wonderful possibilities and creative solutions. I want to remember that each of us is part of the Gospel story as we add our color, design and perspective to the world. As we share ourselves, and share our creative efforts, may the world know God's love and capacity through us and be invited to start over again.

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