Mark 1:4-8 (NLT)
This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey.
John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”
There’s something about the end of the year that makes one nostalgic. Perhaps it is the Christmas music playing on the radio. Or the crisp winter air that turns our breath into frost. Or it could be the decorations that light the night in festivity. Whatever the cause, we become reminiscent of the “Good Ol’ Days” every year at this time.
In my own life, the search starts at Thanksgiving and works its way into my soul all the way through the New Year. The past 365 days, however bleak or brilliant, are coming to an end and with the turn of the calendar’s page, I look for a new beginning, a new year. I look for Hope.
The people of Judea were looking for hope as well. They were streaming out into the desert, the wilderness, to see someone who promised great things. Their political world was in chaos. Their financial climate was heavily taxed. Their religious lives were heavily regulated.
They looked for a break. They looked for something different. They looked for something better. They looked for Hope.
Don’t we find ourselves in the exact same place this season? Aren’t we looking for some good news? A change in the climate of political, personal, and religious life? I think we are. Yet, too often we seek solace in Black Friday shopping madness, over-indulgence of food or drink, or worse yet, new jobs, new families, new lives. Sadly, these replacements for true hope only leave us longing for more; bigger bobbles, brighter lights. Like opened toys under the tree that lose their value before Christmas lunch, these things lose their luster quickly and we find ourselves back in the search for something of true value, true meaning.
Thankfully, there is just such an offering in the works. The Season of Advent is a Season of Hope. It is a time when we can prepare our hearts and minds for a change, for good news, for a new way of living. If we hear the voice, heed its call, and prepare, we just might find hope that lasts the entire year…and the rest of our lives.
Dear God of Hope,
You say if we seek, we will find. If we knock, the door will be opened. If we ask, it shall be given to us.
And so, in this Season of Hope, we seek your love. We knock on the door of heaven. We ask for your grace in our lives…That they might never be the same again.
Deliver us from this world of chaos to a place of peace, love, joy, and Hope.