The Holy Gospel: December 4, 2011 (Year B)

Read:  Mark 1:1-8

Meditation: “The Beginning of the Gospel”

Sometimes in a retreat, I will use this passage to ask a question, “Who was your John the Baptist?”

To this day, I have never had anyone say, “I don’t believe I had anyone like that in my life.”  When we think back, all of us can identify one or more people whom God used to “prepare the way of the Lord” for us.  It may have been a family member or friend—a teacher, coach, neighbor, college roommate, Sunday School teacher, etc. etc.  But we find that there was someone who was at work in our lives before we personally professed faith in Christ.

We must not underestimate the importance of preparation.  In one of his homilies Origen spoke of the heart as a spacious house that needs to be “prepared” in order to receive Christ as its guest.  Origen urged his listeners to pay as much attention in preparing their hearts as they did their homes.  For, in a real sense, our heart is Christ’s home.

Thirteen hundred years later, Robert Boyd Munger wrote a little booklet entitled, My Heart Christ’s Home, using the same idea of room-by-room readiness for Christ.  If you have never read his little piece, I urge you to do so.  It’s available from InterVarsity Press.

In theological terms we are talking about prevenient grace—the grace of God at work in us before we profess faith in Christ.  And through this grace our hearts are prepared for His coming.

Today, I ask you to remember your “John the Baptist.”  Give thanks for him or her.  And then….remember God wants to use you to be “John the Baptist” for someone else.  The beat goes on.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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