Times Paces by Henry Twells
When as a child I laughed and wept, Time crept.
When as a youth I waxed more bold, Time strolled.
When I became a full grown man, Time RAN.
When older still I daily grew,Time FLEW.
Soon I shall find in passing on, Time gone.
O Christ! wiltThou have saved me then? Amen
Peter makes it clear that our Lord doesn’t see time in the same way we do. We become impatient when time isn’t moving quickly enough for our liking, yet we waste time, not making the most of each moment. As Henry Twells reminds us in the poem, however long we live on earth, our time is soon gone.
Our Lord, however is eternal. He doesn’t have to work within the constraints of a timetable and can take as long as he wants to fulfil his purposes.
He is patient, Peter says, “not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.”
Our world, the heavens and the earth are also subject to the limitations of time. Peter says the Day of the Lord, his second coming will take place suddenly, at a time of his choosing when we don’t expect it and the heavens and earth will be dissolved in fire.
We need not fear the end times, however because of God’s decisive act in entering time in Jesus who was born among us in his first coming.
In Mark’s gospel there are no birth stories. Time flies quickly through the ministry of Jesus to his death and resurrection.
The gospel starts with the words,” Good news.”
Mark’s message is revolutionary. In Christ there will be a shift in human history that the world has never known before. Good news, evangelion in Greek, was the word used to announce the birth of the emperor and important events in his life or victories in battles.
Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one, the long expected Messiah who has come to set his people free and reign as King. He is the true son of God, not just his representative. God has come to his people and the world will never be the same again.
When people looked at Jesus they saw that God is good; that he is love. He set people free and brought forgiveness of sins and healing so that blind people saw, death people heard, lame people jumped and the dead received new life.
When we look at Jesus we see God is on our side.
We long for our friends and family, the hurting and in pain, the doubter, those who have lost hope, those who are persecuted and those in warzones to see what that God is good news.
Christianity is often seen as bad news. Christians are often depicted as bigots, haters of women, homosexuals and sex, as spoil sports, control freaks, abusers, money grabbers and war mongers. Some people attribute all wars to religion.
People leave the church because Christians have been bad news and have left them with bad memories. Often as we look back in our lives we have been most hurt by other Christians.
Jesus was good news when he came to Galilee and is good news today. He still comes among us, loves us, forgives our sin and heals. He is still powerful and authoritative.
The good news begins with John the Baptist appearing in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins and pointing to Jesus.
John’s message was good news even though it was hard to hear
Isaiah and Malachi had prophesied and written about it but for 400 years there had been silence.
People walking in darkness had longed for the day when their light would come.
Jews longed for the moral degeneration that epitomised Rome, which had led to their suffering to be overthrown. They longed to be cleansed inside and out.
John fulfilled and fitted the prophetic expectation of the forerunner who would make them ready for the coming of the Lord.
He looked and sounded like a prophet. He was a wild man clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed and lived his message, wearing the most basic clothes and surviving on the simplest foods.
He proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Before their Messiah came, people needed to take a long look at themselves and not only be sorry for their sin but repent, turn from their sins and make restitution to those they had hurt.
They were to signify this turn around by being baptised in the River Jordan.
The Jews were used to baptism. They had ritual baths in synagogues where they immersed themselves after touching anything unclean. They were used to ritual washings and purifications before meals.
If a non Jewish person wanted to become a Jew they were both circumcised and baptised to signify the washing away of the old and their new beginning.
Jews knew they broke the law and were constantly in need of being made clean.
It’s very difficult giving up vices. They often begin when there is a hole in our lives which we fill. Alcoholics, drug addicts, those who are thieves and control freaks or those who have a bad temper and solve their problems using violence know they are destroying their lives and other peoples but are often unable to stop. The greedy, lazy and those who hoard also find it difficult to reform. Bitterness, unemployment, shame or lack of friends can provide holes in our lives that we fill in wrong ways.
The residents of the whole Judean countryside and Jerusalem were baptized by John in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. All have sinned. They were willing to admit and confess it publicly before God and those gathered. Sometimes confession is necessary to stop us sliding back into poor behaviour and to gain the support of others. The much maligned sacrament of reconciliation or confession to a priest or Christian soul friend sometimes helps us to leave our sin and guilt behind.
Repentance is not easy. John knew his followers would find self-reformation difficult and sometimes impossible so John pointed to the one more powerful than him, coming after him.
We need Jesus to fill the hole in our lives
John was not worthy even to serve as a slave and untie the thong of his sandals. John knew he was only human, a sinner, limited in knowledge and power. We don’t hear of John healing and raising the dead.
Jesus has the power and authority to forgive us our sins and to heal us. He also gives us the power to resist sin.
Water was an out ward symbol of cleansing and dying to sin. Jesus cleanses and heals us on the inside. John points to Jesus who will baptize, totally immerses us with the Holy Spirit.
Through flooding our lives with himself, Jesus makes our whole being holy.
We need Jesus to come and reign. We can prepare for his coming, by repenting, putting right what we can and inviting Jesus to turn our world upside down by baptising us with his Holy Spirit so that he will enable us to live lives which reflect his light and his glory
God both created time and entered time when Christ was born among us as a baby. He became one of us so that when out time on earth comes to an end, we might share in his resurrection and live with and in him forever in a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness will be at home.
For some death will come suddenly. Those of you reading this are privileged, for we have time to prepare. When time has gone will you have accepted Jesus as your Saviour?