December 8, 2002
Second Sunday of Advent

Mark 1:1-8

The good news of Jesus Christ - the Message! - begins here, following to the letter the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.

"Watch closely: I'm sending my preacher ahead of you;
He'll make the road smooth for you.
Thunder in the desert!
Prepare for God's arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!"

John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey

As he preached he said, "The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I'm a mere stagehand, will change your life. I'm baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism - a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit - will change you from the inside out."

[The Message]


1. Thunder marks the passage of dramatic change - lightning.

What marks the passage of dramatic change - enlightening?

Is that moment of marking still echoing?

2. What would it take to reimagine settled congregations as the place of the wild? It seems that this might be the last place in the world open to receiving a preaching of life-change. But to see congregations as wild places opens us to acknowledging and addressing a key dynamic of community - forgiveness.

3. This forgiveness comes from the inside out in response to the wildness of life - ours and others. It is a spiritual lightning bolt that changes our relationship with the wild places of life and with our self. While we couldn't see it coming, we can mark its thunderous passage with a thunderous silence of humility.

So if the once and future Christ/Messiah/Friend/Partner of GOD is active, the choice before us is that of rejoicing in and preparing for an experience of the more of GOD. Smooth a road where you can, straighten a path where you can. Life can be changed. We are not stuck.

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