Friday, February 16, 2024

Reading: Mark 1:9-15

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Beloved Ones,

We get to the heart of human need for redemption fast in this Marks Gospel witness. Surely, this is perfect in a year when Ash Wednesday lands on Valentines Day!

Mark proclaims “In the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”; and immediately launches into the prophesy of Isaiah to introduce John the Baptist. We’re fast forwarded past his birth and childhood, to find Jesus has reached middle age and is making his entrance where the Jordan borders the wilderness. John is boldly offering “a Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”

The “good news” is that God is present acting in the world to bring salvation! God’s kindom has come so near we can touch it. In fact, we can move into God’s kindom now because it is revealed by the love of God manifest in the life of Jesus. The prophesy of our Messiah’s coming is fulfilled in the carpenter from Nazareth who builds the eternal framework of God’s saving work for all humanity.

John invites us to take the first steps into the kingdom, crying out for us to give our hearts to God! Confess our need of saving. Repent. Come be baptized by water for the One who will baptize us in the Spirit.

Yes! Let the stain of sin wash away for every heart that turns to God’s Love!

Last month we remembered our Baptism. Now, we begin Lent. We reset, we come down off the Mountaintop and enter the snow melt that forms the Jordan River below. We should come humbling ourselves to consider what it is to be emersed in the living water;  and rise with pure hearts before God who unfathomably claims us as beloved!

It is time to kneel in awe of how deeply and faithfully God loves us! Time to do honest inventories of how we have failed to love. It is time to tend and renew our commitment to give our hearts fully to God and consider where we have forgotten how precious it is to be so very precious to God!

Therefore, it is in this Pastor’s prayers that we will all take time to ponder how we can be more loving, more forgiving and faithful to join in and do our part in making the kindom shine through for everyone!

Let us pray:

Loving Lord of All,

There could never be any lace hearts or flowers that compare to the beauty of your unmerited grace!  Your love is the best news we could ever receive. The wonder of it amazes us! Forgive us for every action that counters your loving desire for all to experience abundant life. Save us from taking your faithfulness for granted. Thank you for never giving up on us! We love you, Lord! Amen

Rev. Vanessa LeVine

Pastor for Clinical and Regional Services at Methodist Healthcare Ministries and Clergy Member of Travis Park Church

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