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.”
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. Mark 1:1-13
Our country sides, our deserts are draped in snow this season. We do not live in an arid climate, but in a moist one, surrounded by rivers and close by the ocean. Yet there are plenty of pathways to clear, much work to be done to make straight the way of the Lord. The snow shoveling alone, just to get out of the house, can be a daunting task. Every threat of bad weather, this time of year, makes one want to go back to bed. Preparing the way can be a challenge for many.
Today we hear the opening of Mark's Gospel. It echoes through our brains, music from many different generations swelling in our heads. But Mark is calling all of us to pay attention in a new and different way. He set the stage for the relationship of John and Jesus in a brief baptismal moment. Then we are swept into the wilderness. Our preparation is always about going into the wilderness as well. Places we don't want to go and going to people we don't want to encounter. We are invited to let go of wanting to control and instead make room in our hearts for the possibilities we didn't even imagine and the relationships we didn't think we even wanted.
Today I ask God to help me prepare for the days ahead. May my heart be open and may I let go of control. May we all turn over to God those things which we are holding tight, and let God walk with us on our way.