Second Sunday of Advent: Seeking the Wilderness in Times of Crisis

Second Sunday of Advent: Seeking the Wilderness in Times of Crisis
Winter solstice labyrinth walk at AK Child & Family, Anchorage, Alaska. From the 2020 Prayer Calendar.

Isaiah 40:1-11, Mark 1:1-8

The good news is first proclaimed in the book of Isaiah and comes at a time when the people of Israel find themselves in a crisis. When John the Baptist begins to prophecy the words of Isaiah, the people of Judaea and Jerusalem find themselves under the rule of the Roman Empire.

I think often about the context in which the people receive good news and it is, both times, a context of injustice.

Though the message remains the same, from Isaiah to John the Baptist, it grows in immediacy in the book of Mark as John the Baptist speaks to the people of Jerusalem. The coming of the one is imminent—even more imminent than when Isaiah first proclaims it.

I feel this same sense of immediacy today. This Advent, I am preparing myself for an imminent future. And the good news is the news of the coming of Christ who comes in the defense of the poor, the disenfranchised and otherwise oppressed, and promises that the last shall be first and the first, last. This Advent, I prepare myself—mind, body and spirit—for the liberation that is to come.

Lying in wait

For me, this year’s season of Advent feels particularly resonant with the times. The climate of 2020 has been largely anticipatory. All year, we’ve been lying in wait for any news that will, in some way, assure us that our democracy will be sustained for the foreseeable future. Some news that might not mean the end of the world as we know it. The poor and disenfranchised of this nation and of this world understand, perhaps better than anyone else, that though leadership may change and appear to operate under the guise of freedom and prosperity, it delivers none. The sociopolitical climate has begged a question of evermore imminence: “How do we take care of one another?”

The book of Mark tells us that John the Baptist, in bringing this good news, does not present himself in familiar robes. Dressed in camel hair and eating wild locusts and honey, the people of Jerusalem seek good news not from a suit-and-tie-wearing bureaucrat of the Roman state, but a man from a place that the text refers to as the wilderness, a man who most people, in the context of today, would readily pass by without a second glance.

In this time of anticipation, as we await the coming of Christ, I am assured that our salvation will not be found safely within the walls of the city nor come from the mouth of any government official dressed in familiar robes or look the way I might expect them to look. In this time of Advent, I train my perspective on the wilderness and what might be found in the places and people I have overlooked. The wilderness, where we find John the Baptist, calls me to think about those places and people that I have neglected in order to maintain my individual sense of safety and privilege. This Advent, I am challenging myself to look beyond the safety of empire to the wilderness, in expectation of the good news.

I repent for the distractions that have taken my attention and awareness away from the wilderness, away from the coming Kingdom. I repent and prepare a way for the Lord, making space in my home and heart, standing in solidarity with those on the margins, so that I may be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Victoria R. Collins (she/they) is a Bronx-based writer and educator originally from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Their writing has appeared on Bustle, Hippocampus Magazine and the most recent issue of Fatal Flaw Literary Magazine. They also teach Essay Writing with Writopia Lab NYC. Victoria attends New Day Church in the South Bronx.


Posted or updated: 12/3/2020 12:00:00 AM

Give Thanks. Give Now.

Advent 2020

November 29: First Sunday of Advent
December 6: Second Sunday of Advent
December 13: Third Sunday of Advent
December 20: Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 24: Christmas Eve
December 31: New Year's Eve


2021 Prayer CalendarClick Here.2021 Prayer Calendar available on the e-store