1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, 2 happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah:
Look, I am sending my messenger before you.
He will prepare your way,
3 a voice shouting in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way for the Lord;
make his paths straight.”
4 John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. 5 Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. 6 John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Relay races are popular in sports. They involve everyone on the team, a spirit of cooperation, endurance and focus so that when the baton is passed to you, you don’t drop it. The race usually begins with the line up of the first runners, gripping their batons, crouched forward, full of anticipation as they listen for “Get ready, get set, go!” The runners dash forward gaining speed as they extend their batons towards the next runners, who take it and continue the race. The crowd cheers as they urge the runners forward towards their prize. I feel this image of running the relay race applies to each of us, as we play our part in the divine relay, passing on the Good News of salvation through Jesus to the next person, who will pass the Good News of Jesus onto others.
The Gospel of Mark begins by announcing something new is about to occur. We feel with anticipation the appearance of the long awaited Messiah. The Kin(g)dom of God is breaking upon us. God is with us in the person of Jesus. John the Baptist is proclaiming to us, today centuries later, to “get ready, the Messiah is coming again.” To get ready, we need to confess our sins and brokenness and seek God’s forgiveness. When we confess, we experience the grace and peace that comes with being reconciled to God through Jesus.
We “get set” to run the race, to pass on the Good News, by becoming a disciple of Jesus. Through baptism we are born into new life in Christ. We recognize that we are children of God. We continue through life, trying to turn away from sin to live a life that follows the example of Jesus and experience the abundant life that following Jesus brings.
We hear the command of our Savior to “Go.” To go into all the world and share the Good News. The Spirit gets us ready, gets us set and is with us when we ‘Go!’ The Good News baton has now been passed to us. The Spirit will guide us, and give us the words to share the Good News with others. The baton is in your hands, pass it on. Go!
By Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
What stage of the divine relay are you currently running? Are you at “Get Ready, Get Set or Go”? Who can you share the Good News of Jesus with today?
Prayer: Holy God, we hear your call to go and prepare the way for the Lord. Guide and give us courage to share with us the people who need to hear of your love and forgiveness so that by passing on the Good News of Jesus Christ they may find salvation and new life. Amen.