Second Sunday of Advent
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Psalm 85:1-21, 8-13
2nd Peter 3:8-15a
We have now begun to read from Mark’s Gospel with the start of a new year on the Church calendar. Mark obviously was a companion of Peter and his writings reflect the memories of Jesus’ greatest apostle. While Mark writes in a childlike manner, his writings offer his reader vivid pictures of the life of Jesus as seen through the eyes of Peter.
Mark repeatedly illustrates a very personal side of Jesus and often goes into greater detail when describing various events of Jesus and his disciples than either of the other synoptic writers, Matthew and Luke. It would appear that Mark got off to a rocky start on Paul’s first missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas, Mark’s uncle. Mark left Paul and we don’t hear anything about him until many years later when here appears back with Paul when he was imprisoned in Rome. It would seem that Mark and Paul had reconciled their differences and Paul writes that Mark had become a helpful servant to him.
This may have been when Mark reunited with Peter who was also in Rome where both he and Paul would later meet their death at the hands of the Romans. Apparently, Mark spent a good deal of time listening and writing as Peter described his experiences with Jesus.
Mark had grown up surrounded by the early followers of Jesus as his mother’s home had been a meeting place for those early Christian believers. Mark had grown up surrounded by those early Christians and it is easy to see in Mark’s writings that he too was a true believer who recognized Jesus as the Son of God.
In this morning’s reading Mark introduces us to Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, who has come out of the wilderness proclaiming the coming of the Messiah. John’s message was truly a word from God and was meant to call the people, both Jew and Gentile, to repent and be baptized. While the Jewish people understood the important of the Gentiles to be baptized, the concept of a Jewish baptism was unknown to them. John proclaimed that he would baptize with water, but that the one who was to come would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
As we continue to move through the weeks of Advent, may we remember and acknowledge the true meaning of this Christmas season and may reflect on the great gift that God has given for each of us. While we may exchange gifts with one another and with friends and loved ones, may we remember that they pale in comparison with the gift of God’s son freely given to you and me.
And, may we remember that God did that because God is good…all the time.
An Act of Spiritual Communion
“My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the holy sacrament of your body and blood. I love you above all things and I desire to receive you into my soul. Since I cannot at this time receive you sacramentally, I invite you to come spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were here with me and I unite myself with you fully. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen
A Prayer for the Church and Benediction:
Almighty and everliving God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers for this parish family. Strengthen the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent. Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.