Second Sunday of Advent
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Prophecy, Patience, and Promise
Advent is a season of expectation, the word itself meaning “coming.” Many families spend these four weeks waiting for children to come home from college, or for grandparents to come for Christmas dinner. For young children, these days of waiting can seem like a thousand years. Others are amazed at how quickly time is flying, as they sense the end of their own lives drawing near. In the interval, stories from the past are told and retold as a way of remembering the significance of these waiting days.
The arrival scripture speaks of is both more profound and more sublime. It is the coming end of a way of being that has seemed like exile, like imprisonment. It is salvation from all that has torn us and our world apart. As we wait alongside the readers of Mark’s gospel, we too hear voices from the past in the prophetic words of Isaiah (and Malachi and Exodus) that prepare us to receive the one who is coming into the world: Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mark 1:1).
As with any long period of waiting, we know that the final days are the hardest to bear. We struggle to understand why we ourselves, never mind the rest of creation, must wait any longer for the salvation and redemption God has promised. Our salvation is bound up with one another’s though, and we are reminded that God has been patient with us, “not wanting any to perish” (2 Peter 3:9). We therefore practice patience with God as we remain steadfast in hope and lead lives of holiness and godliness worthy of the new era that is coming (2 Peter 3:11-12).
Gospel: Mark 1:1-8
The Gospel of Mark does not begin with a story of Jesus’ birth but with the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord.
1The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
3the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’ ”
4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And 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. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He 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. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”