Mark 1:1-8 NRSVue

1The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ.,

2As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,

“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way,

3the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight,’ ”

4so John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And the whole Judean region and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him and were baptized by him in the River Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the strap of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Some thoughts on this scripture

The attraction of John the Baptist is mysterious. People flocked to him, not to be flattered but to be told the truth. They listened because of what they saw, a man who was indifferent to the world's prizes, a man of minimal needs, who could not be bought by pleasures, comforts or money, but passionate about God. They recognised holiness.

Show me, Lord, what there is about my life that takes from the value of my words and makes me less convincing.

John the Baptist preached forgiveness. This is one of the special gifts of God, and one of the big celebrations of Advent. We are a forgiven people, and we welcome the forgiveness of God in our repentance. This means we are firstly grateful for forgiveness - that we do not have to carry forever the burden of our sin, meanness, faults and failings. God covers them over in mercy.

The second step of welcoming forgiveness is to try to do better in life - to move on from this sinfulness and meanness to a life of care, compassion, love and joy, and to make steps to forgive others.