Our scripture this week is Mark 1:1-8, taken today from the New King James Version (NKJV).

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.” “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’ ” John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The baptism John offered was for the forgiveness of sins, what is sometimes called “an outward sign of an inward change”. While only God can forgive us, it is we that must change our lives. Having been forgiven, we enter a new relationship with Him, no longer burdened by past sin and confident of His love for us.

John taught that this was only the beginning, that the One who comes after him “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (v. 8). Jesus comes not only to show us God’s love but to teach us to use the gifts we have been given to share that love with the world. This is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, God’s presence with us always.

Jesus has caused a change in us and we are called to help others experience that change. As we celebrate His coming this Christmas, ask Him to show you new ways to serve, new means of reaching out to those who need His love. This is the miracle of Christmas, that all are called to see Him among us and go tell that Good News to the world.

Loving Lord, we are humbled that You would come to us as a child that needed love and care. Show us how to love and care for Your people that all may know the joy of a connection with You. Amen.

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