Advent, Advent Reflection, Beauty, Bible Readings, birds, Christian thought, creation, God, Gospel of Mark, hillside beach manitoba, Holy Spirit, Jesus, John the Baptist, Messiah, nature, pelicans, photography
This is the 15th in a series of daily Advent reflections based on the Daily readings. To see the other posts in this series click on the Advent Reflections link above, or in the right-hand sidebar under categories.
Today’s reading is Luke 3:7-18 Click on the link to read the text on Oremus Bible Browser.
Today’s images aren’t particularly great photos, but they jumped out at me for this post. I expect you will see a clear connection with some, others will take some trust that there is a connection.
The sun is shining whether or not there is a break in the clouds. We don’t need to see it to believe it. My theme today is that belief actually comes before seeing, once we have seen there is little need of belief. But there are some things we believe even though we can’t see them. Sometimes this is called trust (mum will be there to meet me after school), sometimes faith (I trust in God even when it is hard to believe). Friday was a day that tested our faith.
I like to think of nature using the beach as a huge canvas; continuously creating unique sand pictures.
I played around with this enlarged detail of the sand-scape. I prefer the subtlety of the original, but its fun to play with the colour and the details. The black dot is an air hole left by a fresh-water mollusc, or so I believe.
In today’s reading Mark tells us about the crowds that were coming from all over the country to hear John the Baptist preach and to be baptized by him in the River Jordan. John is a pretty terrifying preacher. He calls the crowds a “brood of vipers”. Not exactly a term of endearment. John’s preaching and call to repentance was an urgent one. There was no time for niceties, people needed waking up to the reality that the new time was about to break in on them. They must get ready. They must be ready. His basic message was that they should turn their lives around. True repentance would be seen by its fruits – in other words their changed behaviour.
John told them to share with one another. If you have two coats share one with someone who has none. If you have food, share it with someone who doesn’t. HIs message is a good one for us to hear today.
John’s message appealed to many people, including the hated and mistrusted tax-collectors and soldiers. Read the text to find out what he told them they should do.
People began to ask him if he was the long awaited Messiah? His answer was “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire…”
Very shortly after this John will recognize Jesus as just that person.
Jesus continued the call to repentance. He invited people (and continues to invite us) to start over, to turn around their lives. But that’s hard. The way to start is by believing in him. Jesus doesn’t call us after we have repented; after we have changed our lives. Jesus calls us now, just as we are. It’s in responding to his invitation that we find ourselves being changed. It’s a slow process. It takes a lifetime. But we are not encouraged to passivity. We are encouraged to reflect on the life and teaching of Jesus and through prayer to see the world differently. It’s like seeing a puzzle picture (we had a few yesterday), once we know what it is, we can no longer see it other than for what it is. It’s as though Jesus offers us a new pair of glasses, to see the world through a different lens, but be careful, once you put them on you won’t see anything the same way again.