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Nice Outfit, John!

Mark 1:1-8 (NIV)

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah: the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”—“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Why does it matter what John the Baptist was wearing? Or eating? But let's not get distracted by the thought of crunching locusts and hanging out in the desert. John was a simple guy but quite popular because he gave people hope, and told the truth about who was to come. You know, that Jesus guy!

At this time of the year, it is easy to get distracted, especially for those of you with jobs and kids and a wish to make everyone happy. There are gifts to buy, cookies and pies to bake, perhaps stollen too such as Philip bakes for friends. It is delicious and full of rum-soaked fruit. Trees must be bought or gotten out of storage and decorated. And so on.

This year, Philip and my Christmas decorations are quite simple. There is a small tree on the hearth with a few special ornaments, a creche on the mantelpiece along with some greens and a few pretty lights.

I felt cranky at first trying to put even this small display together, and I also felt sad. I always do at this time of the year. I don’t really know why but quite possibly because I miss my English family and cannot go to see them. Who knows?

But we put on some classical Christmas music and I found myself singing along with some of those old hymns, Silent Night, Away in a Manger, We Three Kings, and others. My spirits were lifted. And I remember the importance of the one for whom we wait and celebrate every year, Jesus, the baby whose life brings hope, and the possibility of peace and understanding in the future.


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