Listen up, people; I’m excited about this opportunity to share some good news with all of you. Here it is:
Everything started according to God’s words from a long time ago… This is what the prophet Isaiah said:
“Get ready! I’m sending a messenger out into the wilderness to stir things up. This guy’s going to be making a lot of noise: ‘Shovel away all the mess’, he’ll say, ‘Open up a clear way for the Lord! Make sure there’s nothing blocking the path!’”
Sure enough, John the Baptizer showed up, he was preaching in the desert. And he wasn’t subtle at all!
“Repent!” he shouted. “Turn around. Do a one-eighty; it’s the only chance you have for forgiveness!”
Well, people showed up from all over. Crowds of them. They listened, and they apologized for their sin. So John baptized them in the Jordan River.
But it wasn’t pretty. John wore the rough clothes of an ascetic. He held things together with a frayed leather strap. He ate grasshoppers, and then he washed them down with wild honey.
But he also said this: “The Almighty has so much more in store for you! What God has in mind is coming in the form of someone so glorious that I’m not even qualified to kneel down and unbuckle his sandals! My baptism is symbolic. Water does tell a great story; but, The One Who is to Come is going to baptize you with the real thing, I’m talking about the Holy Spirit of God!
Then, as the final reading, I'm presenting this selection from Psalm 103:108:
Praise God! Praise God with every molecule of my being! Everything that I am is resonating with the astounding fact that God simply is!
I acclaim God’s name with my entire heart. I worship because I never lose sight of how remarkably kind God has always been.
Here’s what’s remarkable: The Lord knows my shortcomings, and he loves me anyway. It’s a forgiveness that wipes the slate clean.
God heals us when we’re broken; God provides the solution that makes death a non-issue. God’s kindness and love sit on our heads like a crown of glory.
In fact, God addresses our most penetrating needs in creative ways, each and every day, granting strength that could be compared to that of a young eagle.
The Lord is all about justice for people who fall through the cracks of society, people who are treated unfairly.
The Lord God laid the law out, in detail, to Moses, and then demonstrated to all of Israel exactly how far and how deep the actions of such a God could break through into this world.
But, along with all this mind-boggling power, the Lord is also defined by acts of mercy.
It’s a mercy that is wedded with kindheartedness, with benevolence, with patience and with grace.
It’s a love that never, ever fails.
I've got to tell you, writing these scripture selections in my own words was a powerful experience. I recommend it for a personal devotional exercise. I'd like to do more.
This is the third week of Advent, the week identified (in my book at least) as LOVE. Live, therefore, as if the love Jesus came to gift us is real and present and active in your life as a faithful disciple.
Love and blessings - DEREK