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 people thought that John the Baptist was quite a celebrity! Not a from the D List, being drafted into the Big Brother House or the jungle, but a proper top celebrity. Imagine the excitement and fuss surrounding John as crowds came to be baptised. People thought he was amazing, some even thought he was the promised messiah! He was quick to put them right though and explained that he was just the warm-up act, the main event is Jesus! John was just preparing the way.
The birth of Christ is hidden amid the consumerism, the pressure to get the latest gadgets, toys and fashions. Over 2000 years on, it's easy to be cynical and say that Christmas has lost its meaning, but is it much different from the first Christmas? Mary and Joseph were hidden in a little out-of-the-way stable when Jesus came into our world. Just as John was warming up the people for the arrival of Jesus, maybe the baubles, bells, turkey and tinsel, presents and mince pies are warming us up for Jesus's arrival too.
This Gospel story has made me think about the fuss and frenzy of Christmas and look forward to the time, when the Christmas dinner is eaten and the gifts unwrapped, when it's time to focus on the main event and think about the greatest story ever told; the main event; the birth of Christ.
Jessica Wilkinson - Salesian Cooperator
Father God, as we prepare for Christmas, help us to be like John the Baptist and encourage people to prepare. May we be people who recognise the importance of getting ready for the gift that is Jesus. May our preparations be blessed and may we be truly ready to receive and share your love, peace and joy.