I have recently been reflecting on Marks gosple as I prepare for advent.... if you have the time...join me.....
Mark’s Gospel does not start with an angel whispering into Mary’s ear, there is no star, no evil ruler, no shepherds or wise men from the east gathering at a stable in Bethlehem.
Mark’s story begins with a man, a lone voice crying in the wilderness of Judea. I recently read that if Marks gospel were a film it would begin like this; a long pan shot of the wilderness, a barren land, heat rising out of the dust , dry bones, a glaring sun. Then in the far, far distance a small black spot would appear, the tension builds as the camera comes closer and closer to reveal a man. But no ordinary man, for he is a man of the wilderness, a man dressed in clothes which were woven from coarse camel hair, held at his waist by a leather belt. He is the strangest of men but still we watch and wait. The music fades and the man opens his mouth and cries out; Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!
This man is no ordinary man, he is a messenger and he is heralding the coming of the Lord.
He is the man predicted by Isaiah, dressed like Elijah and sent by God, he appears as a prophet but he is not in the temple, not in a holy place, he is in the desert, crying out in the wilderness and people flocked to hear his cries.
John went to the wilderness so that he could get closer to God so he could hear his voice, where there were no distractions, nothing getting in the way of the important job he had been called to do. For John had been called by God to prepare the way for Jesus. It was vital for him to be able to focus on God and God alone so that he could hear his voice clearly and serve him well.
He broke away from all those things which hold us back, set our feet on different paths, distract us, entice us, excite us. He went to where there was nothing, a barren desert where he would have to rely on God alone rejecting the desire for wealth and a life built on materialism for a simple life so he could focus on God. He knew that the old world was about to end and the new world was about to begin and he wanted to prepare himself so he could serve God to the full.
In the desert he had space and silence to hear God’s voice and he could also hear himself think. He had time to process Gods words, pray over them, live them be them. John was the beginning of the Good news. He was proclaiming someone who would build the world out of new materials, who would rearrange the stones and pillars of old religion. The Holy Spirit was being lost and covered up in Jerusalem, the flame had almost been snuffed out under all the hypocrisy, God had become complicated and Jesus was coming to make God simple once more.
Filled with the Holy Spirit John’s cries drew people to him, so they too were physically breaking away from all that the cities held, they were also physically breaking away from their old ways and preparing for the new. As the crowds came to hear Johns voice he also baptised them in the river, taking the custom of baptism and giving it a new meaning. Because in this baptism he was giving these people a fresh start, ready to start a new life with the one who was to come and change their lives forever. His baptism allowed them to wash off all that had been before with a chance to be clean to be open before God and have their eyes open to see God in Jesus.
Sometimes we all need to tear ourselves away from all that distracts or dazzles us. Sometimes we can’t hear Gods voice in all the noise that life brings. We need to hear his voice and we need to wash away all of life that sticks to us and makes us feel dirty. We can do this by finding our own wilderness, or hill top or lakeside where we can be still and hear Gods still small voice. It starts in the silence.
In our busy lives we all need to have that wilderness time with God, to read his word and to hear his word and to be His word. We need the silence so we can live the abundant lives God has planned for us. Gods been speaking to me about the need for silence for some time now, he has been calling me to be in His presence so he can speak into my life and my situations. He wants to be with me, to walk with me through the pain and the joy, but he cant do that if I don’t make time to go to him, to leave all the distractions which life tempts me with and be still.
I wonder if he is calling you to be with him? If he is then lets listen, lets listen together and take two minutes to be still and in the silence I pray that He will find you and speak words of love and comfort into your open our hearts.