1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” — 3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ” 4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Mark 1:1-4 NLT
Tis the season for parties and celebrations. And we know that there is a lot of work to be done before the party. There is grocery shopping, house cleaning, and food preparation before guests come over just to name a few important pre-party details. There is also one important part that can’t be forgotten. Invitations. If we don’t tell anyone about the party is highly unlikely anyone will show up!
The precursor to God coming up close and personal is also an invitation. John the Baptist was God’s “save the date card” and repentance with baptism in the Jordan was the invited guests RSVP. As Wesleyans, we call this God’s prevenient grace which is how God works before we know or begin to understand our need for God. Prevenient grace is the people, places, and circumstances God uses in our lives to invite us into faith. John the Baptist was sent before Jesus so that people might not miss the imminent coming of the Messiah.
But many people did miss the Messiah or simply didn’t understand or embrace him. Some missed him because of selfish motives which told them “he will disrupt this good thing we have going on.” Others missed him because they didn’t think they deserved the healing and goodness he offered. Some missed him because they were too busy with day to day life and wouldn’t take the time to go out of their way to see him. They wanted not only up close and personal but convenient and comfortable. And still more missed him because they didn’t want to associate with the outsiders and sinners he invited to this new kind of party (ie. Kingdom). I could go on but you hopefully get the point. And little has changed in 2,000+ years.
Let me have the honor to invite you to come and see the Messiah who brings salvation. Advent is about preparing our hearts to accept the invitation to God’s saving grace for today and eternity. And it’s never too early to RSVP!