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Monday, December 21, 2015

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)

I love the preparations for this holiday season. I spend a lot of time putting up a tree, shopping for gifts for the people I love, and making plans to spend time with friends and family. And my passion for this season is solidly based on the amazing events that took place so long ago, events that give me the hope of redemption.

It would seem, however, that my passion for preparation doesn’t hold a candle to the passion of John the Baptist, who was called to “prepare the way of the Lord.” So dedicated was he to his mission that all the people of the countryside and all the people from Jerusalem came out to the wilderness to respond to his call to repentance. He spoke with such authority and conviction that, as the account in Luke tells us, many wondered if John himself was the Christ. So compelling was his message that people came in droves to listen to this man who pointed the way to the one who would offer ultimate cleansing, forgiveness, and hope.

This leaves me humbly wondering how, in this holiday season, I can “prepare the way of the Lord,” in this world, in this time.

Lord God, prepare my heart to fully appreciate the impact of the birth of this baby, Jesus. Open my eyes to opportunities to prepare the way for your kingdom here and now. Amen.

Written by Elaine Filus, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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