DAY 1 - Isaiah 40: 1-11

In today’s reading, it appears that Isaiah has been given a vision into the future where the people of Judah (the Southern Kingdom) have reached the end of the warring. They are currently in a long season of war and attacks from enemies all around them. Isaiah realizes that these consequences for their actions were meant to draw people close to God in repentance. Isaiah offers God’s words of comfort to the people, encouraging them that their sins are forgiven and the consequence for their actions is finished. Then, God encourages his people to prepare a pathway for the glory of the Lord to again be seen. This time by all people. God still wants these tired, scared, nervous people to be his messengers, even after all that has happened! He wants them to prepare the way for him. This is not a human king whose promise grows up like grass but then fades and blows away, but a promise of God that stands forever. Therefore God’s people are to broadcast this good news so everyone can hear, because God is coming to all people! He will tend them like a shepherd, gently leading them.

Read Isaiah 40: 1-11

What about this reading strikes you? Why?

How does this reading sound familiar with this week’s gospel reading (Mark 1:1-8)? What do you notice about John and his message? 

Who gets hired to be a spokesperson or messenger for different companies today on tv and radio? Contrast that with the people God chooses to use as His messengers. 

God loves to use the most unlikely kinds of people. Take time to list out who else is an uncommon messenger for God. Think Christmas story, Old Testament, New Testament.

What can this text teach us about sharing the good news today?

This December we are talking about words or themes that are encouraging to us. Talk together about a word or theme you might focus on this Christmas. How could you celebrate and remember that word or theme together?

DAY 2 - Mark 1:1-8

As St. Mark begins writing the good news of Jesus he quotes the passage from Isaiah that we read in our Old Testament Lesson. He clarifies it so that we understand that Isaiah was writing about John the Baptist. “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, repent, and prepare the way of the Lord.” Mark then describes John and his ministry: proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. This message struck a chord with all those who came out to him. Interestingly, Mark describes John as being clothed in camel’s hair and wearing a leather belt around his waist, and eating locusts and honey. Sort of reminiscent of Elijah (2 Kings 1:8). What is more interesting is John’s description of the coming Messiah: he will be mightier than John (certainly in message and deed), he is so revered and esteemed that John is not worthy to untie his sandals and wash his feet. This guy is a REAL MVP!!

Read Mark 1:1-8

Why do you think Mark begins the story of Jesus’ gospel here instead of with Jesus’ birth? Think about Jesus life and ministry in relation to the Isaiah reading (40:1-11).

Mark records John making the path straight by preaching repentance, how does showing people their sins level the ground and make paths straight? 

How does convicting (stirring up) of sin, and knocking down pride play a part in your cycle of repentance?

How does Jesus being WITH and FOR us encourage you when you think about your sin?

How does Jesus being WITH and FOR us encourage you when it comes to living a new life as Jesus’ follower?

Talk about words or themes that are encouraging to you. How can you live that out at school/work/home this week?