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Saturday, December 9, 2017

A Voice in My Desert



Audio - click here!

The Gospel of Mark begins with these words we heard today.  In these first words, he makes it clear that Jesus is the Messiah, long-awaited (literally centuries, even since Adam & Eve).  1) "Christ." 2) "Son of God"  3) Isaiah's prophecy (messianic)  4) Elijah's "appearance" in John the Baptist

The Gospel starts for us in the scene of the desert.

The desert refers to the wilderness, the place that is uninhabited, "deserted," and thus is free from distraction.  In the spiritual life we all have deserted areas - places that we have not spent much time cultivating and creating God's kingdom there - areas where things are truly out of order and chaotic, fallen into disarray.  With the ministry of Saint John the Baptist, we are invited to enter into that desert and prepare a way for the Lord there.  For the people of Jerusalem and the countryside of Judea that were going to see John the Baptist, the journey could have taken anywhere from 1-3 days, perhaps even more from areas farther west.  Jerusalem was about 20 miles from the river.  That journey into the wilderness truly allowed one to disconnect from their daily life, to get quiet, to refocus.  They could leave their sins behind, and then "turn back to the Lord" (who dwelt in the Temple) and "return" to their daily lives with a new perspective and a lighter load.

The snow we see around us now gives us a chance, a sort of invitation, to enter into that desert.  The snow first quiets the world around us (a symbol of removing distractions), and it also makes us slower - we walk slower; we drive slower; things take longer.  Slow down! the world says, sending us God's message.  All of this is an invitation to enter into that desert where we can truly hear God's voice - to disconnect like the Jews did on their journey to the Jordan River.  And what is God saying to us if we allow our lives to enter into in that quiet space?  Prepare a way...  “Prepare a way for Christmas presents”?  “Prepare a way for Christmas dinner and Christmas parties"? No, that is the world's voice.  But God’s voice calls us to get ready Not for an event but for a person. “Prepare a way for the LORD.”

The Messiah, the Christ, is coming.  The Gospel is beginning again in our lives this Advent.  And it begins in the desert, with this call to repentance.  God, in His great love for us, isn't waiting for you or I to fix ourselves.  No, he is coming to meet us and heal us Himself.  But he needs us to cooperate with that healing process by confessing our need for a Savior, by admitting we need Jesus.

Baptism - 2nd Baptism that is Confession.

Conversion is a life-long journey for us as Christians.  We can always go deeper.  Let us journey into the quiet desert of our hearts, and through repentance, prepare a way for Christ to meet us once again.

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