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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, December 17, 2019  

Today’s Scripture 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)

Reflection
A voice crying in the wilderness. Is there a more depressing job description? “A voice crying in the wilderness.” A herald making an announcement to . . . nothing. Echoes fading away.

I mean, there’s nothing in the wilderness. Who are you crying to, exactly? “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” It’s the wilderness, John. The Lord can go wherever. And what would the Lord be doing out here, anyway?

“Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” And behold, the response was crickets.

That’s the problem with having a vision. It’s yours. You see it. It’s real to you, it’s just out of reach, but it’s real. To you. But only to you. And as long as that is true, you’re in the wilderness. Crying out, with no one to hear you.

And the thing is, we’re all in the wilderness. A disorganized place, where all you can do is try to get by as best you can.

If we’re lucky, we can find someone going the same direction we are. Then the cold solitary expanse of the world is brighter and warmer by the light and warmth of another person. And that brightness and warmth attracts others.

The only way that happens is for someone to cry out in the wilderness. “Hey, something great is going to happen here.” And then people have the chance to say, “Let’s check it out.” And then if—and only if—they can see themselves in your vision, if they can make it their vision, then there can be life in the wilderness.

John kept talking about a better world, a world where we didn’t have to be chained to the past, where we could face the future clean. He kept talking about forgiveness and the great things that were going to come. People came because he spoke about the better future.

And the seed he sowed in the wilderness brought forth an abundant harvest.

Prayer
Lord, give us the courage to be that voice in the wilderness, to declare the vision of a just world and the presence of your kingdom. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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