Mark 1:1-8 (Gospel Reading for the week leading up to the Second Sunday in Advent).
“Advent has traditionally been a season of preparation. The church over the centuries has come to understand that Christians need to set aside regular times of the year to consider again the full significance of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. The meaning and joy of Christmas will easily elude us unless we make a focused effort to dwell ahead of time on all the promises of God that have come to fulfillment in Jesus’ birth. The church’s traditional Advent practice stands in tension with contemporary culture. The rhythms of a secular, consumer society have displaced the church year. In that society, preparations for Christmas have been reduced to hanging twinkling Christmas lights, listening to cheery holiday music, and gazing at an abundance of material for the buying, all of which we hope will evoke in us a sense of magical, childlike wonder and goodwill. Not the promises of God, but our own ideals and longings, have become the focus. How different is the preparation to which John the Baptist calls the people of Israel! The promises of God that are coming to fulfillment in Christ should compel people to confess their sins. John asks us to examine ourselves, rather than bask in holiday wonder. We should bear good fruit (in keeping with true repentance), rather than worry about material things to get or give…”
John Burgess, Feasting on the Word, Year A, Vol. 1