Mark 1:1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, "See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; 3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'" 4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
Mark draws on an ancient prophetic tradition to describe John the Baptiser: Like Isaiah, John is calling people to prepare to encounter God: this is achieved through repentance, and re-commitment to the faithful practice of their beliefs. The one remarkable thing about John was not his words – but his practice. This was a preacher who practiced a simple lifestyle..... no fancy clothes, no sumptuous meals, and no luxurious home. John wore the clothes of the poor, ate the food of the poor and lived on the margins of society.
I wonder if we could draw on this tradition as we prepare to encounter God afresh this Christmas season: Could we choose to live on the margins of the vortex of fashion, food and fetish? And most especially for those of us who are preachers of Jesus: Let us all be challenged to dress simply, eat more simply, and live with less ostentation.
For Reflection: Could this Season of Advent challenge us to live more simply, without the overwhelming drive for excess and acquisition?
Second Sunday in Advent
2. Preparing the Way
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 20.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.