Today is a day of new beginnings.
In these seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, there are a lot of the lectionary passages that represent new beginnings, or actual beginnings like starting the Gospel of Mark. Mark jumps right in to the good news skipping over any birth narrative or anything about Jesus’ childhood.
Many of us are in desperate need of new beginnings. Many of you have been talking to me about your hunger for a new start. Whether it is medical challenges, unemployment, balancing medications, stress in relationships, loneliness, depression, I have seen that many of us carry heavy hearts into the new year. We are longing to turn the page on the past and embrace God’s new future for us.
Ironically, Mark both turns the page on the past, but also embraces it. As Mark starts, he takes us back to what 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.”
We then with a description of John’s baptism of repentance. No birth narrative. The beginning of the good news begins with prophecy.
Mark sees a grander narrative. The entirety of Jesus’ coming was a fulfillment of the Scripture, a loosing of the chains that once kept us in bondage. Proclaiming the way actually preceded the birth of Jesus. John was not the only “proclaimer”. Prophets of generations past had also spoken of the coming of one who would restore the kingship, a successor of David who would stomp the invaders of Israel.
It is difficult to view a grander narrative when we are in the midst of it. It is hard to have patience to let God work on us, heal us, give us hope, allow us time to turn the page on the past while at the same time embrace the past.
May God bless you with the ability to trust in the messianic hope that is upon us. May God bless you with the strength and courage to start again, not dragging past fear and pressure into the present, but bringing enough of the past along with you to where you can see from whence you came and where you are headed.