“The beginning about the good news of Jesus.” This is how the text starts this week. It’s funny how you remember text differently. I had always thought about John being a bit judgemental and Jesus was the compassionate one. Yet here we are reading the text of John in the week of Peace. What does John tell us about peace? How does judgement bring peace? So I went back again, read it again and it begins with saying up front in Mark, this is about the good news of Jesus.
John is out there living a simple life in poverty. What is he offering that is so attractive to people? That is when I found it. That beautiful treasure I had so often skipped over in my reading of the text. “repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. I had often heard the repentance but I had forgotten that even John was about the forgiveness of sins.. actually so was the law.. God has always been trying to give people a chance to do it better. It would seem the disease of guilt has been an issue through all of history.
This last week I watched the movie Moana with my daughter. I love it, it is one of my all time favourite kids movies. Warning if you haven’t seen it I am about to ruin it for you.. (Still watch it though it is great!) The story is about Moana trying to return the heart of Te Fiti ( a good goddess) to her that had been stolen. Along the way they are attacked by Te Ka an angry volcanic god who was determined to stop her on the way.. When they finally get past Te Ka they discover that Te Fiti is gone. It is at that point that Moana realises (this is where I am going to ruin it!) that Te Ka was Te Fiti but without her heart her gifts of creativity and life had turned into violence and anger.
I think that guilt is one of the creatures that can steal our hearts and leave us in a place of being angry destructive beasts. If it doesn’t make us angry it can make us lock ourselves away afraid and no longer sharing the gifts we have with the world. God is right to help us to find ways to transform us back from this place. When Moana returns her heart to Te Fiti she is at peace and is able to use her gifts again for good.
John was out in the desert. He was giving people a physical way to cleanse away the guilt that came with the mistakes we make in our lives, but more than that he gave them ways to turn them around, repentance. The physical act, the reminder of God’s love for us, the returning to who we were meant to be, it does truly bring a peace that is beyond understanding. But John knew there was more, there was one who was coming that would bring the Spirit. One who not only returns us to how we were but one that amps it up to the next level , that shows us who we can truly be and works with us to spread that love, joy and new hope across the whole world. Just like Te Fiti when her heart was returned. Disney does an amazing job of the animation and to watch the life return accross the whole of the world is a beautiful thing..
My prayer for you this week friends is that you might find the peace that comes from repentance and that the life God has put in you, may spread across the whole of your world, restoring it to the beautiful creation God had in mind when you were knitted together in your mother’s womb. Peace friends!