Thursday, December 16, 2010

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”

Mark 1:1 This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began
Mark 1:2 just as the prophet Isaiah had written:
     “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
         and he will prepare your way.
Mark 1:3      He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
     ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming!
         Clear the road for him!’”
Mark 1:4  ¶ 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.
Mark 1:5 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.
Mark 1:6 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.
Mark 1:7  ¶ 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.
Mark 1:8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”

The Gospel Writer Mark does not cover the birth of Christ but picks up the begging of Christ's story by announcing His purpose-- Good news about Jesus the Messiah.  For Mark the story begins at the point where the adult Jesus starts his public ministry, foreshadowed by John the Baptist-- his cousin and herald. Both shared the same birth narrative story-- John with the elderly couple, Elizabeth and Zechariah, and Jesus with the virgin mother and both announced by the same angel. Both had a single purpose-- John to announce the Messiah coming and Jesus to be the Messiah. Jesus, as King, would have a herald go before him making an awareness among people to be ready to receive the King's words. Both John and Jesus fulfilled prophesy. Both demonstrated a power from God to live outside of self-will and to do the will of The Father instead.

We tend to get caught up in our gift giving and Christmas listing these days. We are filling stockings and wrapping boxes, checking off lists for others and answering the endless quarries of 'what do you want for Christmas' Our North American Christmas tradition is pretty commercial. Our political leaders worry that our business communities will not  make their annual Christmas season sales targets. The only reason they do not give in to the pressure from the people like the ACLU who want to completely eradicate Christmas from human memory, is that the season is good for business. If we could keep Santa and loose the Messiah all would be happy. But the season is not about Santa. It is about the birth of the Messiah-- the one who came to remove the sins of the world and redeem humans from their deserved consequences,

John's prophesy was that the Lord would baptize us with the Holy Spirit. He used the symbol of baptism to represent washing away the old, cleansing from within, and arising to walk in new life. That is what being washed in the Holy Spirit does for us. And it results from our faith, believing in Christ-- that He came from God, to do what He said He came to do-- save us from our sins. That is the work God wants us all to do-- to believe. And, if we believe then He wants us to be equipped by His Spirit to live like we believe it.

Don't you wonder now how we can make Christmas more about The Christ and less about the shopping? I do.

Your servant in Christ's love

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