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Saturday, January 4, 2014
Today’s Reading | 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 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.” (NRSV)
Once Christmas is behind us, the tree and decorations are down, and the music in the stores has gone back to normal, it’s instructive to take a look at the beginning of the Gospel according to Mark. Mark doesn’t tell any of the beloved Christmas stories we love. There’s no angel appearing to Mary, no story about finding a place in the stable behind the inn, no shepherds or wise men. Mark strips the story down to its essentials: Jesus came just as Isaiah said he would, and John the Baptist proclaimed it to people who were ready to change their lives.
Mark apparently believed this was all we needed to know. The miracle of the birth of Jesus was magnificent enough without any of the stories the other Gospel writers provide. Mark thought it was incredible enough for us to grapple with the idea that God has come here, right into our world, and it’s time to change our lives for the better.
So in this post-holiday season, absent all of the distractions of December, consider this simple and challenging truth: God is with us, calling us to change our lives for the better. What will you do today?
Gracious God, help me to hear again the magnificent story of Christmas and to be moved toward a better life for me and for the world around me. Amen.
Written by Adam H. Fronczek, Associate Pastor for Adult Education and Worship
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