St Michael’s Church, Church Lane, Aughton, Ormskirk L39 6SB Tel 01695 424457 (Parish Office, Mon to Fri, 9am - 12 noon)
10 December 2017 - Advent 2
Gospel Reading: Mark 1.1-8
Theme: Being who you are called to be
Bible notes on the reading:
A key decision for any storyteller is what details to include and what to omit. This matters as much with the Gospels as with a novel. One of the extraordinary things about this week’s reading from Mark’s Gospel is its urgency. Mark says, ‘The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.’ Then, with no reference to Jesus’ nativity, we’re off! Without a hint about Jesus’ birth or lineage, we are straight into an account of John the baptizer.
The appearance of the Son of God signals the ultimate end of exile for the people of God. John the baptizer represents the last in a long line of prophets pointing towards the expected Messiah. He urgently calls people to ‘repent’ that is, to ‘turn round’ and return to God. Mark deploys words of Isaiah that we heard in the Old Testament reading. In doing so, Mark reiterates the sense of urgency. He wants to remind his readers that to point towards Christ (and to follow him) is an urgent matter. John prepares (as the Isaiah reading makes clear) a ‘highway’ for the Lord – that is, a way that enables us to get where we need to be quickly.
The Romans famously made their highways in straight lines. It enabled them to prosecute war and build an empire more easily. But John’s highway prepares us for God himself – in the person of Jesus Christ. Mark knows that no matter how prepared or unprepared we think we are for Christ, we need his presence and holiness urgently. The path we are invited to walk with him will be on holy ground. It will be the road less travelled. It will take us through dangerous wildernesses as well as places of seeming safety. However, rather than being a self-serving highway (such as those the Romans built for their Empire), the ‘Way of God’ calls us out of ourselves. Jesus is ‘the Way’. Even when we feel very far from ‘home’, he leads us from exile into truth.
Live your faith - ideas for our faith into action in our daily living.
For children: Suggest the children do some online or library research about the beauty of nature in the wild.
For young people: Help out around the house this week to show your appreciation to those who make your home so homely.
For adults: Look out for people who don’t seem ‘at home’ – this could be at school, at work or elsewhere in your community – and try to make them feel more welcome.
Find out more about one of the bible passages
we have heard this week.
Prayers around today’s themes
A way into prayer
Think of those who are in any kind of exile in the world today.
Hold each person or group before God in silence for a moment, then pray: ‘God hears your cry and calls you home.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.’
A children’s prayer
thank you for John the Baptist
who prepared the way for you.
Thank you for coming to our world,
and showing us the way to God.
A personal prayer
Lord, my God,
just as a single flame can light a whole room,
may this single prayer bring
light into the dark places of the world,
hope in the despairing places,
comfort in the suffering places,
and beauty in the wild places.
In Jesus’ name, I pray.
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Reflection questions on this week's picture: