This week, we meet John the Baptist in the wilderness where he is helping us get ready for Jesus to come and save the world (including us). He's wearing camel's hair, eating locusts, and "proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." 
Now, I know it's the end of the week, and we're all tired, but humor me for a minute while we look at a little biblical Greek. I promise, we're going somewhere good.
What we read in English is: "proclaiming a baptism of repentance FOR the forgiveness of sins." But in the original Greek, before our messy translations get in the way, it says that John was "proclaiming a baptism of repentance INTO the forgiveness of sins."
Instead of telling people they needed to get baptized in order to receive forgiveness, John was baptizing people into the forgiveness that was already available to them. John was welcoming them into God's reality of undeserved mercy. John was calling them to turn toward this undeserved grace. 
I wonder: How do we turn ourselves toward the forgiveness that is already there for us? How can we reorient our thoughts and actions to acknowledge the mercy and love that surround us? What difference does it make in our lives if we believe that our truest home is in the God who has always loved us? Might we be better prepared for Jesus' eruption in our world and the dawning of a new era of justice, peace, and love?
All of this reminds me of turning into my grandma's driveway. When I make that turn and see the porch light on, I know that inside there is always homemade pimento cheese at the very least, if not a much grander feast. And more importantly, I know that inside, I will remember who I am, and I will know how much love has always surrounded me. 
Not everyone is so lucky with home. Sometimes home is hard. But in the best cases, a visit home nourishes, heals, and sends us back out, ready to face the world, remembering who we are and whose we are.
John the Baptist invites us to turn into the drive and to know that behind God's porch light is forgiveness beyond our wildest imaginations.
As Quinn Caldwell says in our Advent devotional book, "All I Really Want," this is "good news for just about everybody this Christmas, whether you're headed home for the holidays or have no home to speak of, trapped far from home or planning to host the gathering, or looking forward to or dreading whatever reunions are in your imminent future. Because all that we ask of home that it can't deliver, all that we depend on it for that it disappoints us in, all that we need and it will never be able to deliver? Your home can't deliver it, but God can, and the porch light is on."
So, dear ones, turn into the drive. Prepare the way. Know how welcome you are into God's home of forgiveness. Feel the love that has always surrounded you. And know, that there is only more to come as we approach the Advent of our Lord. 
Peace be with you.
Pr. Marsha
This Sunday's Readings
Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
2 Peter 3:8-15a
Mark 1:1-8 
Annual Congregational Meeting, 9:15 am - 10:30 am in Fellowship Hall - All confirmed members of Good Shepherd are encouraged to attend. A light brunch will be provided. Children's SME classes will open at 9:00 am on this day, and the nursery will be available. 

We've got an exciting pledge update to share! Come to the Annual Congregational Meeting for results so far and a glimpse ahead at 2018 at Good Shepherd.

The first week of Advent is about hope. One way we can offer hope this season is by collecting items for Puerto Rico hurricane victims. View the list of needs HERE (p. 10), and bring items to worship this Sunday.

Mid-week Holden Evening Prayer - Wednesdays during Advent at 7:00 pm - Each Wednesday beginning December 6, join us for Holden Evening Prayer.

Way of the Shepherd -  Wednesday, December 13, 6:00-7:00 pm in Fellowship Hall   Join us for food and conversation on the topic "What is Faith?" Everyone is invited, but especially those who may be interested in formally joining Good Shepherd this year .
Bluegrass Christmas with Break Even -  Thursday, December 14, 7:00-9:00 pm, Sola Coffee CafĂ©   Bring your family and friends to this Christmas singalong with Good Shepherd's own bluegrass band, Break Even.
O' Holy Night at Camp Agape - Saturday, December 16 at 7:00 pm - Walk the lit camp trails and watch the "greatest story ever told" unfold. Tickets are $12/person with a $45 family maximum (children under 5 free). Sign up online or contact Barb Newcomer .

The Longest Night - Sunday, December 17 at 5:30 pm - In a season of joy, some hurt remains. This service is for those who are remembering someone or something this Christmas.
More information about upcoming events is available in  this week's bulletin announcements .
The December edition of The Shepherd's Voice is now available online.
Health and healing for Carl Kjellberg; Bob Ballou, family of Dick and Becky Martin; Guy Hartman, uncle of Angie Metz; Carolyn Shankland; and Sean and Melissa Casey, friends of Nancy Williams.

Thanksgiving for this Sunday's baptism of Caroline Davis Stout, daughter of Joey and Jennifer Stout, and granddaughter of Jim and Cindy Davis.

Sympathy to the family and friends of Ruth Haferkorn. 

For the orphans of Mnene Parish, including Cristabel Zhou and Reward Gumbo.

Reward, 27 years old, successfully completed his degree in Agriculture Sciences at Midlands State University and has attended his graduation ceremonies. He has been job hunting, but many companies are in a "wait and see" mode until the new government in Zimbabwe is firmly in place. His Mail For Mnene partners are the Hoyle and Kuchenreuther families.
Cristabel, 22 years old, successfully completed her vocational program to work as a "till" (cash register) operator. While job hunting, she was fixing people's hair for a little income. After a long search without any job opportunities, in September she was to begin a Hotel & Catering program, noticing that there may be more opportunities for employment through this career path. She was experiencing severe headaches, but Mnene staff were able to secure medication that is helping with her symptoms. Her Mail For Mnene partners are Holly Livingston and the Dickson family.

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