Thursday, December 11, 2014

Advent Day 12

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,’”
  -  Mark 1:1-3

Every story has a beginning. Usually it sets the scene for what is to follow and, if the writer is adept, it hooks us and makes us want to read on. That’s one of the major things taught when someone begins writing classes or programs. Mark may not have had formal training as an author, but he had a story to tell and his opening certainly sets the stage for what is to follow.

Unlike Matthew and Luke and in common with John, Mark does not have a birth narrative. The stage is set, however, by introducing a prophecy from Isaiah that introduces a messenger and the main character whom he introduces to the world. John certainly was a voice crying in the wilderness; his clothes were rough and simple, and his diet was the product of living off the land. Undoubtedly he had been taught scripture and was open to being given a job that would daunt most people.

We have messengers today, people who see and understand what is going on around us, especially what is going wrong and needs to be corrected. Sometimes we listen to them, but most often we don’t, dismissing them as cranks and nay-sayers. Sometimes, like Martin Luther King Jr, they are killed because of their message and yet the message has been heard and the response to it grows stronger. At other times, though, the message is overtaken by a tidal wave of public opinion, denying that there is a problem or that those who are perceived to be or have the problem simply need to buck up, shut up and get on with life.

Who is a messenger in our world today? Look around; who is speaking out on a problem that many others wish or want to just be ignored or simply go away? What message are they trying to convey? Who will be helped if enough pay attention? Who will be hurt? We have many voices who seem to be crying in the wilderness.

During Advent we are invited to not only listen to the messages but to be messengers ourselves. The kingdom of God is the goal, a kingdom where there is no poverty, no marginalization, no oppression, no rank, power or privilege except being a child of God and carrying the message that all God’s children are loved and to be cared for. To believe in Jesus, we need to believe in the message he brought, one of peace, patience, and love of God. It does us no good to say we believe in Jesus if we don’t act to carry out his teachings and, in fact, become his messengers.

By taking a name from an Angel Tree, putting a dollar in a red kettle, bringing a toy or warm coat to a collection point is a good beginning. But how else can we carry the message, even without words? We must look for opportunities to be messengers to a world desperately hungry and needing the warmth we can bring. That is the gift we can bring to the manger and to the world.

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