Advent devotions: December 9th
By Ricardo Velázquez
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.”
These words are meant to catch our attention. Whether it’s a film, a show, a new store, or a whole shopping center, the words are meant to excite us and let us know that there is something for us in the future. Because Christmas decorations get displayed as early as September, the excitement of “Coming soon!” can get lost among the usual signs of the yearly Christmas celebration, its commercialism, and its busyness. Another year of celebrating the “season” can come and go very quickly.
In the Gospel of Mark, though, the message of “Coming soon!” comes through loud and clear. And the meaning of the season is also proclaimed: Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Mark reminds us that Jesus didn’t just appear; instead, he was announced by someone who had been chosen long before and was given the privilege of making people aware of what was “coming soon!” That person was John the Baptist, a man whose clothing style and eating habits definitely were not his focus. He helped people realize the sin within them and their need to repent. John made it clear that neither he nor his lifestyle nor his actions were the answer, but that someone was to come soon and would make a difference in their lives through the Holy Spirit. John’s announcement excited people and made them aware, and when Jesus came, lives were changed.
Now it’s our privilege to announce Jesus. This Advent, let us shift our focus from our clothing and feasts to the exciting message of the gospel. Let us bear witness to Jesus and prepare the way for what the Holy Spirit can do in those around us. Their lives may be changed not only for a season but also for eternity.
Prayer: Lord, let us be the voices that speak your love to this world that needs you greatly. Let us be the voices that share the exciting message of salvation in you. Let us be the voices that echo the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Let us be the voices that announce that you are coming soon! Amen.
Ricardo Velázquez supports the areas of strategic leadership development, Hispanic ministries, and Next Generation Engagement for the RCA.