Our scripture this week is Mark 1:1-8, taken today from the Common English Bible (CEB).

 The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah: Look, I am sending my messenger before you. He will prepare your way, a voice shouting in the wilderness:
Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight.”

John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

At the start of Mark’s Gospel, we are introduced to John the Baptist who announces the coming of Jesus. People came to him to confess and be baptized for forgiveness, but he tells them one who is greater will soon appear. John knew what he was called to do and he did it faithfully.

John wants people to know that they are responsible for changing their hearts and lives and accepting God’s forgiveness (v. 4), that what he does is merely a sign of their repentance and promise. What is important comes after this symbolic act, that they live as children of God and give up their former ways. John tells them they are important to God and that it is essential that they be ready for the coming of Jesus.

We are called as John was to prepare the way of the Lord. We must let people know how imprtant they are to God and how much He loves them. Only by sharing the Good News of Christ with the world can we fulfill our task to be the messengers of Christ.

Gracious God, we are grateful to be part of Your work here on earth. Strengthen us and make us effective voices that share Your love with all the world. Amen.

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