It’s almost Christmas; in fact, you may be lighting this last candle on Christmas Eve. John the Baptist is an odd addition to the faces at the manger! But before we turn to angels and shepherds and magi, Mark’s Gospel holds before us the good news that will continue to break: “Repentance” means “to turn around.” The Common English Bible translates the Greek as “changing … hearts and lives.” That’s the turnaround in our wilderness, toward “God with us.”
Lighting the candles
Light the first, second, and third candles
on the Advent wreath;
light the fourth candle (purple) for the coming of Immanuel,
As a child raised in the Catholic Church, I was trained to “prepare for Communion” by going to confession on Saturday whether I had sinned or not. It was embarrassing to go out into the pews and say prayers in penance, especially, if they involved a whole rosary. There were a lot of jokes about who finished praying first. The longer the penance, the more sins you must have confessed! My family also got good at figuring out which priest doled out the most or least prayers at confession.
Preparing in the wilderness:
My first deeply felt “preparation” for the Creator was experienced in a mini vision quest in the wilderness. We met as a group after sunset and participated in a Sacred Native American Pipe Ceremony in silence. We then walked in silence to a Sacred Hill and found a private spot to sit and pray.
We had been instructed to “open our hearts, and allow the Creator to see all of us, and to understand nothing would be hidden. We were b...