The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of The Lord, make his paths straight.” John the baptiser appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, he proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thing of his sandal. I have baptised you with water; but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”
St Mark’s Gospel is earmarked as the Gospel of the year. The sooner we get the message, the better off we’ll be, for the message is good, incredibly good: God is here, and he’s on our side’ (Eugene Peterson).
I want to share a story from this Diocese. It involves a man and a horse. The horse had been very badly treated. The bit had been used to control the horse and resulted in only having half a tongue. He had been full of fear. The man was invited to enter the field and gently lead him into the paddock. He took a rope and with the help of the new gentle owner slowly but firmly approached. They waited until he looked towards them and he was ready to be led into the paddock.
The man was invited to connect with the horse and develop a trusting relationship. He was encouraged to stand in the centre of the paddock and reach out his left hand and guide with the right. The left hand of love and then the right hand of discipline. As he waved his right hand the horse began to walk slowly around led by the hand of love. After about ten minutes of working the horse with gentleness and firmness, walking and then trotting around the edge of the paddock the man then invited the horse to stop. Whoah! Then the horse walked towards him and stopped. The man looked the horse between the eyes. The man was invited to turn round and walk away, as he did so the horse followed him nuzzling into his shoulder. Wherever the man walked and turned the horse would follow him. They had become connected. Then he led him back to the field calm and collected.
The man was me, and the horse lives in the horse sanctuary in Leeton. Since then I have had the joy of riding another horse and have done the same with him, but somehow the wild one who responded to me was particularly moving, as I was able to assure him there was no longer any need to be afraid. Love and discipline leading to care and compassion. I have been invited to visit anytime continue to work with Melissa the horse whisperer who provides love and discipline. It reminded me of the need for both John the Baptist and Jesus. The leading hand of love and the guiding firm hand of discipline.
Our Gospel for the year is St Mark’s. He introduces his Gospel story ‘The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.’ As it is written in the prophet Isaiah. ‘See I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare the way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness ‘prepare the way of The Lord make his path straight.’ (Mark: 1.1-3).
Our Lord Jesus arrives in our lives offering us both love and discipline, care and compassion. Our task as Christians is to introduce others to Jesus ‘The Whisperer,’ who through his gentleness and strength will lead us to a place of peace and joy which we will desire to share with others. What could be a greater privilege than to share in his mission of love and discipleship.