Prepare the Way - Monday

read Mark 1:1-8
commentary | Dr. Marcia Riggs

There is a messenger app on our phones. We can communicate immediately and directly with folks on our contact list using this app if they are online at the time. We have become accustomed to receiving news about upcoming events through email and text messages. For some of us, it may be difficult to imagine being John the Baptist standing in the wilderness. He is face to face with others. He is vulnerable, “clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist” (v. 6a). He proclaims that there is one more powerful coming (v. 7a). Yet, we do know messengers like John the Baptist. They are the peaceful protesters in the streets; they proclaim that “Black Lives Matter”—a message that contradicts their treatment at the hands of society’s “protectors of the peace.”

There are at least two reasons why John’s and the protesters’ messages challenge the status quo. First, John’s message is not self-aggrandizing; it is not about his brand. His message preempts those who think they know who is—and how to be—powerful. Second, the message of peaceful protesters marks them as dreamers; why put ourselves in harm’s way when social justice seems elusive? Dreamers acknowledge that the world is violent, but they have a vision of a society of just peace. They proclaim: “No justice, no peace.”

As we light today’s candle, remember that Jesus came into the world so that we are now messengers by the baptism of the Holy Spirit (v. 8). To prepare the way for just peace is a choice that we must make daily. Messengers know that what we see is not all there can, will, or should be. Messengers face the troubles of the world receptively, perceptively, and attentively as they proclaim, “We shall overcome.”
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