Sunday Readings: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; 2 Peter 3.8-14; Mark 1.1-8
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 Holy One, make God’s paths straight.’” – Mark 1.1-3
Mark begins the gospel by identifying the voice of John the Baptist with the voice of Second Isaiah, whose preaching called the exiled Israelites home from exile about 540 B.C. Mark wants listeners to hear the Baptist as the herald of a new age of forgiveness and promise. God is faithfully present in Israel’s history, making a way where there is no way — in the exodus a path for slaves to freedom, in the exile a road home for captives.
Like Elijah the Baptist haunts the wilderness. Like Elijah who discovered God speaking not in storms and lightning but in silence, the Baptist in the silence of his wilderness life senses God is coming among the people in a new way. His preaching and baptizing bring people into the wilderness and ready them for this breakthrough. His baptism washes away a past of simply keeping and breaking the law and symbolizes openness to the reviving Spirit of God. John promises one more powerful than he is coming.
Advent prepares us to celebrate the incarnation — God becoming one of us. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us, the one Israel’s prophets promised God would send. Jesus is the Christ, the anointed, the promised messiah. By loving us as one of us, Jesus shows us that our capacity to love is the image of our life-giving, creative God in us.
As we celebrate Christmas, love evolves in our relationships, in our world. In a year when we can’t sing in groups, carol and spread joy, our lights of every color light up the dark and pull us outside to enjoy them. We order gifts for one another and realize how sacred our family relationships are. Our lives of love and struggle are holy. We find our ways through the wilderness.
How do you see God with us this Advent?