By Melissa Kramer
Mark 1:1-8: 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.”
Prepare: Take a moment to reflect… What does the word prepare mean to you? What do we prepare for? Why do we need to prepare?
In our daily lives, we prepare ourselves for each day. We wake up in the morning, shower, dress, drink our coffee and eat our breakfast. Maybe you also read the news or check the weather before you leave the house. If you are a morning person, maybe the morning is when you spend time in communion with God. These are all tasks, things that we do to prepare ourselves for the day ahead. But our morning routine becomes just that, a routine. We don’t even think about. Advent, I think, calls for something more…
When was the last time you went away? It may not have been this year, it may not have been last year. But think of the last time you went on an overnight trip. Usually a trip or vacation requires 6 months to a year of planning. My family rented an Airbnb early this summer and spent a week in a cabin in Gatlinburg. It was the perfect timing! We arrived about a week or two before the entire rest of the country decided that Gatlinburg was a “safe” place to travel to for the summer. But our trip was not planned at the last minute. We booked the trip almost a year out. We spent months researching what activities we wanted to do and through which companies we should book. We looked up all of the restaurants we wanted to go to and hiking trails we didn’t want to miss. We even planned which meals we would eat in the cabin! I had a two or three page long packing list for this trip. It was much anticipated and required so much planning, but it was worth it! Trips and vacations require our time and attention if we want them to be as exciting and memorable and smooth as can be!
In this passage, John the Baptist prepares the people for the coming of Christ. “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” How do you prepare yourself for the coming of Christ? I know that Christmas can be stressful. Rather than a two or three page packing list, some of us have a two or three page long list of things to do before Christmas Day. It can be overwhelming. I invite you to take a moment and be like Santa Claus. Make your list of things you do to prepare throughout Advent and check it twice! You might find that you want to make some changes to your typical Advent and Christmas routine. The love and grace of God given to us through the gift of Christ is worthy of our preparation and attention.
What can you do this year to prepare your hearts to receive God’s grace?
Our second reading is 2 Peter 3:8-15a: But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a
thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire,
and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.
Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.
Waiting: Just as we did with the word prepare, what does the word wait mean to you? How do you wait? What do we wait for?
I do not like waiting. As a child, every year I would wake up around 5 or 6 a.m. on Christmas morning. This is the only day of the year that I am a morning person. I would wake up early, make my way into the kitchen where my parents would simply sit and stare at me, still half asleep themselves, trying to figure out if there is any possible way to get me back in bed. They never could. I would sit in the family room with the biggest smile on my face asking my parents every 5 minutes, “NOW can I please wake up Lindsey?” I knew that when my sister woke up, we would be able to start our Christmas morning and eating chocolate chip scones, opening presents and spending the day playing family games. I did NOT want to wait a minute longer! I wanted to start the celebration and joy NOW!
Lucky for us, we are not waiting for Christ’s birth like John the Baptist or Mary or Elizabeth waited and prepared. We are not waiting for God’s grace and love to be given. God has already revealed himself to us. He has offered us the free gift of salvation. We are not waiting to be children of God. We are children of God now!
So what are we waiting for? Like John the Baptist we proclaim the coming of Christ. But unlike John the Baptist, we proclaim that Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ will come again! We are waiting for Christ’s return. We are waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises.
In this season of Advent, this season of waiting and longing for Christ’s arrival, what do we do while we wait? This passage encourages us to live lives of peace and of holiness. With those two things in mind, I encourage you this year, this season of Advent, as you prepare your hearts to receive God’s grace, intentionally seek peace. This will look different for all of us. Maybe finding peace this season means spending more time with God daily. Maybe it means slowing down and not trying to do all of the activities and traditions that you normally would. Maybe it means reaching out to a distant friend or family member and repairing a broken relationship.
We do not wait like a child on Christmas morning, watching the clock until our parents say “ok, you’ve waited long enough.” We wait with anticipation. We wait with hope. We wait with faith in the promises of God.
I encourage you to prepare by being people of faith. Do not be discouraged by this year’s changes or limitations. God has not left us or abandoned us. Have faith in the promises of God.
Prayer: O God of comfort, thank you for the ultimate gift of grace and love, your Son, Jesus Christ. As we wait in preparation for Christ’s return, help us, this season especially, to hold on to faith. Pour out your Spirit on us so that we may spread your peace and love to those around us. Amen.
Trinity Advent Devotional
Welcome to Advent, 2020, a season like no other. These readings, throughout the Advent season, have all been written by staff and members of Trinity. We hope you’ll enjoy the opportunity to get to know one another better through these prayers, devotions and stories. Even in this challenging time, we celebrate this opportunity to grow in love and service through our relationships with God and with one another.