As you may know already Bishop Jim and I decided to offer meditations through the week, we want to share with you what is on our hearts in this unprecedented time of crisis.
If something we say creates a question or a thought in your mind, please know that we are readily available to talk with you by telephone or skype or whatever platform you use.
What we want to do is create social nearness while respecting the urgent call for physical distancing.
I have set my task to read through the Gospel of Mark and share some reflections with you. Today Mark 1: 4-8
4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 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. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 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. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
The suddenness of John’s appearing is surely well matched by the outré nature of his appearance (camel’s hair, leather belt and a diet of locusts and wild honey). I wonder how such an entrance would be received in most Episcopal Churches.
We are encouraged to believe that the good Lord causes people, plans, and projects to “appear” as and when they are needed. In these times we can celebrate the ingenuity of those trying to alleviate suffering, angst and loneliness. Just when I needed him… a patient, erudite and skilled teacher appeared to assist me with videotaping these reflections. Thank you, Steve.
It’s sad, but not uncommon, that these appearances occur in wilderness times and in wilderness place for these are the arenas in which we rely most on God’s care and sustenance.
John’s ministry by word and action was one that focused squarely on the need to repent – to stop, reflect, turn around 180 degrees and begin again. The ability to forgive and to be forgiven is at the heart of all successful, growing, vital relationships… between us and between us and God. It has been said that “forgiveness” was introduced into the religious/spiritual vocabulary by Jesus who, like John, spoke and lived and died to secure forgiveness.
Now is surely not the time to blame, to resent, to cast aspersions… we begin where we are… afresh with the Lord.
John’s sense of profound self-confidence, of fearless ministry came about because he knew his place with Jesus… he was humble though not humiliated for he knew that his ministry depended not upon his own strengths but on the Lord he served and on the Holy Spirit that empowered him.
Lord God, keep us alert even in the wilderness to look for divine “appearing” of grace and love and power.
Help us to use these times of solitude to “get right” with you and with others.
And, please, help us to sense the closeness of Jesus and the power of the Spirit.