By Hannah Barg, a junior at Goshen College
Reprinted from Advent Devotions
Waiting in anticipation is something we often associate with the holiday season. Whether it’s waiting in line for the perfect present for a family member, waiting for friends to arrive at your house to begin festivities, waiting for cookies to bake in the oven, or waiting in holiday traffic, it is tempting to get impatient, anxious or angry with others as we wait. Perhaps it is not the consumerist culture surrounding Christmas time that steers the central message away from Christ. Instead, maybe it is in our attitudes and how we respond to situations of anticipation that we lose the true meaning of the Advent season.
As a community of believers, we should treat being in a time of waiting as a spiritual practice. It certainly takes discipline and conscious effort to respond peacefully in a time of waiting when there are many messages and activities promoting stress and busy-ness.
In Mark 1, John the Baptist displays this peacefulness wonderfully; he humbly awaits the coming of someone greater than himself, unable to contain the excitement and joy he feels. He shares this message with others, so that they, too, can be aware of what is soon to come.
In many ways, I believe John is able to maintain such a positive and hopeful vision for the future because he takes time to simply “be” as he awaits Christ’s coming, withdrawing from society and living in the wilderness. To some degree, I believe God calls us to follow this model. Even if we can only spare a moment or two each day, taking time to just “be” in the presence of God and anticipation of the Advent season can be quite rewarding. I challenge you to find a few quiet moments to reflect in the awe and joy today as we together await the presence of Jesus.
SCRIPTURE: Mark 1:1-8 (NRSV)
The Proclamation of John the Baptist
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight” ’,
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’