Let's set the scene for today's reading; something wild was happening out in the desert, people were flocking to see a wild man with a wild message, and he was challenging them and rebuking them and calling them to repent, to turn away from their old ways and to follow God. His message, "get ready, God is about to do something new!!!"
"Get ready, God is about to do something new!!!
The crowds' responded, ordinary men and women hungry for God pouring into the desert to be baptised by John, getting ready, preparing themselves; John's message continued….
…another one is coming after me, and I am not worthy enough to tie his shoe laces, he won't just baptise you with water, he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit!
We must get ready; God is about to do something new!
It was into this scene that Jesus walked; Marks short description of the event tells us that Jesus presented himself to be baptised, other gospels tell us of Johns recognition of Jesus and his reluctance to baptise him, of Jesus insistence, and John's acquiescence….
What ever happened, whatever the conversation, Mark makes it clear that as Jesus came out of the water something amazing happened, the heavens were ripped open and the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove…. and God spoke!
How easy it is for us to read those words, can we really imagine the impact that this event had on the gathered crowds….
Somehow the sky above there heads opened up and the power and glory of heaven poured through…. the Holy Spirit took on visible form, and God spoke, was it a whisper, was it like thunder, we don't really know… but something totally unforgettable happened and I can't imagine being filled with anything but holy awe… there aren't the words to express it…. perhaps only a deep and irrevocable knowledge that God really was about to do something new!
I wonder sometimes if our familiarity with the gospel deadens our imaginations to the wonder and power of the story that is being unfolded for us. For this truly is a story of wonder and power. It is also a story of choices. The people chose to come out into the desert to find John. Jesus chose baptism as a sign of his obedience and commitment, Jesus then empowered by God chose God's ways again and again during his forty days in the desert.
Overcoming temptation was not easy for Jesus, but overcome he did, choosing again and again to turn to God, trusting God and resisting evil, emerging at the end of the trial filled with confidence and power, ready to call people to open their eyes and see that the kingdom of God had surely drawn near.
God was doing something new…..
God is doing something new, for his kingdom remains near, and he calls us to dare to enter into it….
The season of Lent has just begun; traditionally Lent is a season of repentance, often observed by a choice to give something up in order to concentrate more fully upon God….
The season holds an invitation for us to choose to see what God is doing, to draw near and to draw close, to leave behind the things that tempt and distract us and to seek God for the new thing that he wants to do in our lives and in our communities!
The gospel reading today contains a message of power and of hope, of God the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus and reassuring him with words of affirmation:
"You are my son the beloved; with you I am well pleased."
In doing something new, by inviting us into a new life in Christ God longs for us to hear those words spoken into our lives…
You are my son, you are my daughter, you are my beloved and I am pleased with you!
In doing something new, by inviting us into a new life in Christ God longs to pour himself into our lives in the power of the Holy Spirit to equip and strengthen us to live his way!
In doing something new, by inviting us into a new life in Christ God longs to hear us his church announcing the good news….
God is here, he is with us, this message is not a children's story, not a comfortable tale to cheer us on dark days; it is a message of wild possibilities! A message of power and glory!
We live in a world where there is a great hunger for spirituality, a great hunger for belonging, and a great lost-ness as society becomes increasingly fragmented. It is up to us God's Church to proclaim his message of love and power to today's generation.
This Lenten season let us dare to draw aside, to turn form our busyness to listen to God, to gain a fresh vision for the mission he has called us to. To hear his words of love for us, so that filled to overflowing with that love we can reach out to a world in need, for this is why Christ came, and this is what he calls us to.
Let's use this time to get ready… for God is calling us on, into something new.
Let us pray….