"As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
'See, I am sending my messenger
ahead of you,
Who will prepare your way ...' "
Mark 1: 2
Reflecting on the text
Who are God's messengers today? What are God's messages today?
Why are the prophets so important to the story of Jesus Christ?
Who has prepared your way, going ahead to make a path?
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Over the last year my work as a journalist has taken an unexpected but deeply satisfying turn. In writing for a new-to-me publication (albeit one more than 100 years old), I've been meeting and talking to a host of messengers of peace, justice, and reconciliation.
Last April I had the chance to interview Shane Claiborne, one of the leaders of a Philadelphia urban Christian community called The Simple Way, about his recent book Executing Grace, a faithful manifesto against capital punishment. That interview led me to a story about the loved ones of murder victims who have taken a stand against the death penalty. As part of that project I interviewed SueZann Bosler, an activist for abolishing capital punishment for more than 20 years. Ms. Bosler was herself the survivor of an attacker who brutally killed her father, a pastor whose own faith placed him in opposition to execution.
Most recently, I've met and interviewed Arno Michaelis, a one-time white racist skinhead from suburban Milwaukee. Two decades ago he renounced that hateful ideology, became a practicing Buddhist and now works on projects promoting racial justice and celebrating multiculturalism.
When pondering the questions "Who are God's messengers today? What voices are crying out in the wilderness of our world?", these are the people who most immediately come to mind. These encounters have brought me face to face with the incarnation of Love, of Grace, and of Truth that we await in this month of December.
I never expected these encounters. A little more than a year ago I never even contemplated them. Yet in their stories I hear the voice of the One of whom John spoke along that riverbank in Palestine two millennia ago. And then I realize that, even in this challenging time, the Good News is, indeed, at hand.