of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2As it is written
in the prophet Isaiah,
"See, I am sending my messenger
ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
of one crying out in the wilderness:
'Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,'"
4John the baptizer
appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the
forgiveness of sins.
Mark 1:1-4 (The Gospel for
the 2nd Sunday in Advent)
The gospel of Mark does not begin with
the warm and fuzzy Nativity story of Jesus' birth but with the voice of
one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord. And so the
The season of
Advent has two faces. One is the exciting anticipation of the birth
of Jesus so wonderfully sung in the Advent hymns like, "Come, Thou Long-Expected
Jesus" and "Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel." Our hearts yearn once
again for the fulfillment of the prophet's promise and even though we know
the end of the story in our heads, our hearts can't seem to resist getting
caught up in the expectation and the hope of Advent.
The other face
that Advent wears is that of John the baptizer who stands in the desert,
"clothed with camel's hair; with a leather belt around his waist, and he
ate locusts and wild honey" (Mark 1:6). Our hearts are anxious with
the apocalyptic despair and distress that overtakes all who stand their
ground as John "proclaimed, 'The one who is more powerful than I is coming
after me.'" (Mark 1:7) We think John was expecting the courageous
Avenger who would call down judgment upon our heads!
Therein lies the
paradox of Advent: while we anticipate the promises of Advent now familiar
to us with time, we yearn for the overturning of things as they are and
crave to participate in the reversal of the control of death and sorrow
that presently looms over us globally. With Mark's bold prophet we
cooperate in the Advent-ure of a lifetime, we participate in the age where
God's will for justice in enfleshed in our midst, we anticipate the One
who stood under judgment for us and walked in the shadow of death for us.
Advent-ure cannot be anything but good news because it stirs our hearts,
even those cold-hearted places, with a mood of rapturous expectation as
the age of the Messiah unexpectedly overturns our lives. The prophet
of Advent, John the baptizer cries out to us in a brash and daring way
to "Prepare!" and "Make straight!" but he's not talking about Christmas
decorations or holiday menus - the bold prophet is talking about our hearts.
And with a voice of authority he calls us to inner and outer repentance,
to an acknowledgement of the ways we have or have not smoothed the rough
ways for the arrival of our God.
May we find joy
in the straight path of the Lord. May the peace and justice that breaks
the darkness be freely given to all. May each of us proclaim the
good news of the Advent-ure of a lifetime in all we say and do. And
may Emmanuel, God with us, come into each of our hearts.