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.” Mark 1:1-8
Messengers come in all forms and we know that John was not what folks had expected. I got a message yesterday, as I was walking across to my car I slipped on the ice and fell, banging my head and denting a car. I was embarrassed, and tried to recover quickly. I drove my clergy colleague back to her church and went back to my office where everyone saw something was wrong. After to trip to the Urgent Care at our local IHS facility, they sent me home to rest, take some time off and let my brain suffering from a concussion heal. I do not like being forced to slow down in Advent, even though that is what we are invited to do.
The prophet Isaiah begins the Gospel of Mark foretelling the coming of Jesus and of his messenger, John. As we draw within a week of Christmas, with all the frantic last minute chores, it is easy to miss the message of John. We just want to get the chores done and finish all our decorating and service planning. We are invited by John to come into the wilderness, to be quiet and to hear God speak to us directly. We are invited to be still enough to open our hearts to God.
Today, I ask God to help me to be calm and tender with myself and everyone around me. May we welcome the coming of Christ anew by clearing away the busy-ness and the bustle, the fretting and the planning, in order to make a straight path to God. The presence of God needs no decoration, no adornment, no plans. God is sufficient to meet all of our needs this day. May we be still and make room for God's love today.