A devotion for the second week of Advent, December 6-12, 2020.
Read the rest of our 2020 Advent devotions.
Read: Mark 1:1-8
John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. (Mark 1:4)
My heart sank when he burst into tears. I had frightened my son when I shouted at him, and moments later he had fallen to pieces.
My initial self-righteous justification of “he was in danger” crashed against my agony at seeing his tears. I walked over to help him from where he was frozen—one foot and hand raised, prepared to climb a bookshelf. I was trying to ensure his physical safety, but his emotional sense of safety had already been compromised.
John issued a call to change hearts and lives to the people of Judea. Eccentric as he was, I always imagined this call to be—there’s no other word—wild. A wild cry from a wild prophet to a people in wild need of transformation. I imagine that a wild cry from John, no matter how well intentioned, might have reduced some of us to tears in fear that we had done something gravely wrong.
Isaiah, the inspiration for John’s call, says this: “Comfort, comfort my people! says your God. Speak compassionately to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her compulsory service has ended, that her penalty has been paid (Isaiah 40:1-2a).” The call to transformation is a loving and compassionate. Jerusalem has been through some things this season. Her nerves are shot and her heart is tender. Most of us can relate. Even with an urgent call, God’s messenger speaks words of comfort, knowing that transformation and healing are intertwined.
Prayer: Loving God, Comfort our hearts, calm our nerves, and whisper your invitation to loving kindness. Remind us that our words can be a burden or a balm. As we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord, may our hearts and words be full of compassion. Let this season bring the assurance of being gathered into your loving arms. Amen.
Activity: Today, can you wrap your words in compassion? Can you send someone a message of comfort and encouragement?
*The Rev. Jasper D. Peters is lead pastor of Belong Church, a United Methodist congregation in Denver, Colorado. Media contact is Joe Iovino.
This devotion was published on December 4, 2020.