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.’
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ Mark 1:1-11
One of the great things about the lectionary is that you get to start over. When one Gospel is complete a new voice takes up the story. It is a way to clear one's head and get a new perspective on things. Growing up, one of the more prized toys, which we considered pretty high tech, was the etch-a-sketch. Never had one and envied everyone that did. My favorite part of playing with it was that when you messed up, when things just went completely wrong, you could hold it up, often over one's head, and shake the image away. An instant do-over.
Today we hear the opening verses from Mark's Gospel, the first and shortest Gospel. Mark has a refreshing perspective on the narrative, with concise words and simple pictures, the author draws us into the power of Christ. He is not romantic or flowery, but instead tells it clearly. And today we hear the voice from heaven declare God's love for Jesus. And in our baptism, we participate in that honor from God, our do-over, which is a daily renewal of God's promise of eternal love for us.
Today I ask God to help me forgive the mistakes of the past and rise up with great hope and expectation. May we forgive one another, allowing endless do-overs, trusting that God loves us beyond our faults and mistakes, beyond our broken relationships and our hidden shame.