O Lord, open our lips.
And we shall declare your praise.

"Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates" (UMH #213)


New every morning is your love, great God of light; 
     all day long you are working for good in the world. 
Stir up in us desire to serve you, 
     to live peacefully with our neighbors, and
     to spend each day in expectation of your son. Amen.

Old Testament: Isaiah 40: 1-11
Gospel: Mark 1: 1-8

We so often forget the fear that comes with being in the wilderness. We forget that far outside the bounds of the city we find the harsh realities of a world far from electricity and order. But out of fear, chaos, and confusion, God calls the people of Israel. Out of fear, chaos, and confusion, a prophet is called to prepare a way for the messiah, Jesus.

In our Isaiah passage, we hear words of comfort. The people of Israel are coming out of pain that is borne through long times in wilderness, in a foreign land, without their God. But God is the voice that is crying out in the wilderness. Voices of comfort sometimes fail us. Words from loved ones sometimes fail. But when God speaks, we know those words will not fail. We mortals, the grass, fail, but the breath of God, the word of God does not fail. God’s words of hope will last forever. Nothing can stop the hope that God brings.

In the Gospel of Mark, we find ourselves again remembering those wilderness places. Once again, we see hope. And once again, we meet a prophet, this time his name is John. This hope that John called for was about turning. Turning our gaze from inward (on our own failings, our own pain, our own fear) toward our God who was calling out to us. In calling us to turn toward a God who desires us, John called for us to hope in a one far greater than him. Out of the desert God called the people. Out of our pain we hear the voice calling, prepare the way of the Lord. Put your hope in the Lord God, our savior. Come, meet the God who desires to be with the people.

Together, let us pray for:
the people of our congregation . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

all who struggle or are in trouble . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

the concerns of this community . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

the world, its people, and its leaders . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

the church universal . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

the communion of saints . . .
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The Lord's Prayer

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.