Though stores have had Christmas decorations up since the day after Halloween, though the world seems more focused on good sales than good news, though exams and performances and traditions and parties make this one of the busiest times of year, our faith invites us this week to be still and know that God is near.

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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 baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Mark 1:1-5

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Not long ago I had the special privilege of visiting the Jordan River from the Jordanian side. The Israeli side is crowded and filled with tourists. Because it takes time to cross the border into Jordan, fewer tourists travel there, so the Jordanian side is quiet. You walk down a wooded path, past an archeological excavation of an old church on the site, and through even more woods to get to where the Jordan River flows. It was easy to imagine John the Baptist preaching in this wilderness.

The Jordan River is not terribly close to Jerusalem. People who came there to be baptized by John had to travel a long way on foot. John’s message of repentance was so welcomed, however, they were willing to make the trip.

Fortunately, repentance does not have to be such a long journey. It can be a daily practice, as simple as examining how we lived yesterday, choosing how we hope to live today, and asking God to help us and make us new.

Grace Burton-Edwards

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God of peace, give me your peace to let go of the past and cling to your future, to dream your dream for the world, to slow down and see my life from your perspective, to welcome your righteousness, to exercise your patience with myself and those around me, and daily to repent and return to you. Amen.

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Open my eyes, Lord, help me to see Your face.
Open my eyes, Lord, help me to see.

Open my ears, Lord, help me to hear Your voice.
Open my ears, Lord, help me to hear.

Open my heart, Lord, help me to love like You.
Open my heart, Lord, help me to love.

John Michael Talbot

Grace Burton-Edwards

Grace Burton-Edwards is settling in to life in Columbus, Georgia, where she moved this year to serve as Rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church. When she is not unpacking boxes or hanging pictures, she enjoys writing, going to the theater, and staying in touch with her adult sons.

Advent Waiting: Still, Still, Still

David Burroughs

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