Sunday, December 4, 2011

Proclaiming Good News

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, "See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:`Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'" John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." Mark 1:1-8

I have been watching "It's a wonderful life!", the quintessential American film classic,about a gentle man who looses his hope for living in a financial crisis. It is a classic story, run regularly on television before Christmas, a story of hope, faith and community. Very schmaltzy, and dated and yet it speaks still. It is a proclamation of hope for revival, an announcement of more than survival and a vision of renewed community from a time when the world had been nearly torn in two by war. From a deeply wounded place we here this anthem, this trumpet thrill reminding us to hold on.

The opening of Mark's Gospel tells us of the prophetic promise becoming flesh and moving within the world. Mark's Gospel does not offer the sentimental, soft beginning, a stable and shepherds, but instead we hear the presence of God breaking into the world, new and vibrant. We are invited as we walk deeper into Advent to understand the invitation to embrace the gifts of hope, light breaking on the dark horizon. No matter how bleak the world is around us, God is calling us to remember that there is more for us to hope for, and that in each age God is drawing near.

Today I ask God to help me breathe in hope and exhale the fear and darkness that can invade this time of year. May we lift up our heads, and our hearts, as we draw closer to Bethlehem, as we seek the in-breaking of God's love anew in our lives. May we walk the way of peace and hope, expecting joy to surround us, knowing we are being held close to the heart of God.

The Collect for Second Advent

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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