My Siblings in Christ,
I begin this seasonal message to you from the promises of Advent still ringing in our ears.
“Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:1-3)
In these profound words spoken through the prophet Isaiah, God conveyed a message of hope to a distant and long-lost city, Jerusalem. A city that had experienced the devastation of war and its people exiled to foreign lands. Through Isaiah’s proclamation, God promised the hope of return, a pledge of restoration.
And, as promised, they did return. Even the great temple was rebuilt.
Yet, our journey with God, as narrated in the Bible, reveals our perpetual struggle against temptation and human weakness, hindering us from fully embracing God’s will. There are moments of triumph, where love prevails, and compassion and justice bring healing. However, our pride and the pursuit of power and wealth often tempt us down paths that perpetuate our broken human condition.
In response to this struggle, God embodied Godself in the person of Jesus—a living example who faced trials, temptations, loved, suffered, and even died. Jesus is the way that God has given us.
Mark’s Gospel introduces this gift in its first three verses:
“The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’” (Mark 1:1-3, NRSV)
We hear hope in that voice crying out. We witness the challenges in our world that impact all our lives.
God sent us Jesus, a person fully human and fully divine, to show us the way to restoration and harmony, where love, compassion, and justice for all are truly present. The suffering around us can only be halted, and justice and healing made possible if we, with inspired strength and desire, strive to make it right. Daily, God invites us to prepare a place within ourselves and in our lives for God’s message of restoration.
As individuals and as a community, let us journey together, attending to the brokenness in our lives and seeking forgiveness. May we make space for hope to live and grow within us.
Though the future may seem clouded and uncertain for us at the moment, with God’s promise in our hearts and minds, we can be open to God’s presence and capacity to make all things new. Hope enables us to move forward when times are difficult. It can make a highway through the desert. It did. And it does.
I wish you all a blessed Christmas, and I look forward to celebrating with you the arrival of God’s gift to our broken world in Jesus Christ. (Read about our Christmas Services here.) The way, the path, the highway of hope that leads us to restored relationship with God and with each other.
With Love, Hope, Joy, and Peace,
The Rev’d Canon Rob Park
Rector of St. Mark’s
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