A message for the week starting on Sunday 18 February 2024Lectionary Week: First Sunday in Lent
Prescribed Texts: Genesis 9:8–17, Psalm 25:1-10, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1:9-15
Focus Text: Mark 1:11

In the opening chapter of his gospel, Mark covers a great deal of territory. He pulls together Jesus’ baptism, His temptation, His announcement of the approaching coming of the Kingdom, and His call to repentance and belief.It is all tied together with the voice of God the Father. In Mark 1:11 (NKJV), Jesus arose out of the water, filled with the Holy Spirit and God proclaims: “You are My beloved Sonin whom I am well-pleased.” He received the most amazing blessing: “You are My child; You are My beloved.” His identity is confirmed.That is a blessing that is given to us too. We are all God’s children. We are God’s beloved.  This is a blessing that already belongs to you, that already belongs to all of us. That is one of the things that Jesus taught us. Over and over again, He blessed people as He taught them, healed them, cared for them, and connected with them. In doing so, He reminded them that they are God’s beloved. Especially those who feel cast aside, isolated, or excluded by poverty, illness, loss, and other circumstances need to hear this, need this reminder. Jesus blessed those who may have wondered where God was or if God had in fact forgotten them – and reminded them that God was with them and that God’s love would never cease, as is still the case today, until all eternity. How will you, beloved of God, use your gifts and abilities to bless others, to bless the world? For that is how God has always blessed the world – through the actions of God’s people. One simple way we might bless others, is to remind them that they are loved. Because sometimes we forget, and sometimes things happen that cause us to doubt it. Perhaps you are not feeling any of those things right now. But, do you know someone who might be? Who do you know who might need to hear a word of blessing from you? We all need a reminder now and then. That is why I think it is good for us to revisit this story of baptismal blessing. And perhaps that is why this voice from heaven, God’s voice, speaks not only to Jesus, but through the words of Scripture, directly to us as well. You are God’s beloved. You are blessed. Continue to be a blessing to your neighbour in need. Amen. To think about: How will you, beloved of God, use your gifts and abilities to bless others, to bless the world?Written by: Rev. Sean Esterhuizen, Minister in Diaconal Services of URCSA, CABSA Chairperson and trained Churches Channels of Hope (CCoH) facilitator