[#pictureAdvent] December 9: MESSENGER

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By Rosemary Charmaine Grattan
Manchaca United Methodist Church/Associate Pastor
Manchaca, Texas

First, read Mark 1:1-3

I grew up in Victoria, Texas, in a time where we waited a lot. Living out on a stretch of the Bloomington Highway, I would often watch the cars pass by as I waited on the front porch for one of my parents to come home. 

In that day, not everything was so automatic or “here in a flash” speedy, that we didn’t get to enjoy what it meant to wait with eager anticipation, even to the point of excitement, just waiting for whatever it was we were expecting. For instance, as a child, I remember having the milkman come to our door to deliver two or more bottles of milk, and even the Schwan man delivering packages of food. Door-to-door salespersons were also popular in that day. I remember those being exciting times because someone was always delivering something. Decades later, my mom now waits for her groceries to be delivered to the house again. 

If you’ve ever been waiting for a message or a package or something of value to be delivered to you, you probably waited in eager anticipation because you were expecting something good.  Who looks forward to something bad? It’s a contradiction in terms to “look forward” to something that’s not going to be good for you, right? 

Messengers were very important in the days of Mark’s writing. Today’s passage of scripture in Mark’s Gospel account recorded that a “messenger” or herald was coming, and that messenger was John the Baptist. John was sent by God to prepare the way for the Good News of Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, also being sent by God.  At the time of Mark’s writing, when the entire civilized world was under Roman rule, it was customary for Roman officials to be preceded by an announcer or herald; therefore, when the herald arrived in town, the people knew that someone of prominence would soon be arriving.  

When John came, he delivered good news and some of the people were in eager anticipation of it; after all, no God-sent prophet had been heard from in over 400 years. The people had been waiting as a nation for a long time to hear something from God. Now God would speak through John the Baptist, a messenger of God, concerning Jesus the Christ, and the people would actually be able to walk and talk with Jesus, the Sent One, and receive healing and salvation through Jesus. 

Like the people of that time, we too can be in eager anticipation of what Jesus came to do in our lives, as we look for His transformation for our lives and await with eagerness His second coming. 

Prayer: Dear God, you know our hearts and understand how much we wait to hear good news. Help us to hear with fresh ears and open hearts and minds the heralded news of Jesus the Christ, Your Son, who came to set us all free. 

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

1. Can you recall a time when someone brought you good news or something you were in eager anticipation of?  A letter, a book, a grocery delivery, a bouquet of roses? Consider sharing your story and memory with another person, perhaps someone who is in need of hearing good news.
2. Reflectively, imagine how the people of Jesus’ day must have been waiting for some good news. How much do you think John the Baptist was appreciated? How much do you appreciate the good news of Jesus Christ for your life and the world today? 
3. With so much tragedy throughout the world happening, do you think people can still see Jesus as good news for their lives? How can you help those who may be having a hard time seeing Jesus as making a difference in the world today?