The first verse of today’s gospel reading for this Second Sunday of Advent is the first verse of the Gospel of Mark which was the first of the gospels to be written. The reading begins: “The beginning of the Good News.
This reminds me of the first words of the Bible, the opening of the Book of Genesis: “In the Beginning (God created)”.
The last of the four gospels, the Gospel of John, also begins with the words: “In the beginning (was the Word)”
So it’s no surprise in these Advent weeks beginning the new Church year that I’m pondering beginnings. – and now my mind is jumping to other beginnings: “To begin at the Beginning”: opening Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood, and Eliot’s beginning bits in his Four Quartets: “In my beginning is my end…”
Everything in existence had a starting point. Every creature, every person, every project, had a beginning. Every idea emerged at some point. There was a time when everything that is now, was new, fresh, full of potential. But you might notice that I’m writing about what is new and beginning and starting, in the past tense.
Each of us had a unique beginning, and every day we have unique opportunities for growth towards maturity of faith. But how quickly we slip into a programmed way of living becoming stale and growing weary. If we are to be healthy and to live fully we need to remain open to what is new.
This newness is what faith offers us:
- See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19).
- “The Lord will create a new thing on the earth. . .I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint” (Jeremiah 31:22a,25).
- “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor 5:7)
- ‘See, I am making everything new!’” (Revelation 21:4-5).
At a retreat last week some of the participants reminded me of the little hymn based on Lamentations 3:22-23: “The steadfast love of our God never ceases, God’s mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning. Great is your faithfulness O God, Great is your faithfulness.” Listen on YouTube
Because what is new is unfamiliar, the embracing of the new will often not lead to immediate comfort. Note that the beginning of Mark’s gospel moves immediately into the wilderness where John Baptist is giving a pretty strong wake-up call calling people to let go of their old ways and welcome the new direction for life that comes with Christ.
The first Christians chose the dawn of the new day on Sunday, the first day of the new week, as the time for their weekly gathering for worship. I’m reminded of Mother Teresa who said that her way of being open to the newness of the day were to always make first words on waking “Good Morning Jesus.”
- In what ways do you sense that Jesus might be inviting you to embrace a new beginning? It may be something very small, or a bigger change of direction and renewal of life. Whatever your situation you are not alone. Talk to Jesus about your fears and hopes. Then take a step and embrace a new beginning.
- Try making “Good Morning Jesus” your first spoken words each day, and notice the difference this prayer makes to your morning.
- Let’s continue to pray for those listed below (newest initials appear first) and continue to send initials of those you would like us to pray for.