Submitted by Celine David
A few days ago, I went see my brother sing in a choir. The play “Lost in the Woods” was being preformed and the choir sang songs during the play. The play illuminated the Advent message found in Mark 1:1-8. In the play, the actor told a story about his childhood. When he was a little boy of about four years old, he was walking through the woods with his two older brothers. Once they reached a certain point, the older brothers couldn’t go any further along the path, so they told him how to return back to campsite by giving him the simple directions to follow. There would be landmarks that would lead him back to camp, they said, so he went on his way.
He followed the path but, with time, he couldn’t remember which way he had been told to go. He was lost in the woods. Decision time. Not easy for a four-year-old. He could have chosen to retrace his steps and go back to his brothers but he knew they might not be there anymore. The path that once was clear was not so clear anymore. Sometimes on a walk in the woods, we leave marks that help us find our way back, or we believe we’ll remember how to get back to where we once were. Here, the young boy was at a crossroads and he had to decide what to do: Take a new path forward or try to find the old one. The old one seemed safer but it might not take him where he needed to go. For a while, he just sat there crying.
Finally, the young boy realized that he should look up and search for power lines. He thought that they looked like road markers, drawn in the sky. He followed them back to the campsite. Where did this message about the power lines come from? To this day, it remains a mystery to him. I would like to think it was the Holy Spirit, committed to protecting a young boy lost in the woods, searching for signs to lead him home.
In the passage from Mark, the people of Judea and Jerusalem had to come out to the countryside to hear about the work of John the Baptist. Possibly, they were searching for a new way, a new path to go down. We can imagine them sitting there listening to John and having to decide which path to take: Stay and be baptized, or take the familiar road back: back to their old religion, back to everything they had ever known. How strange, exciting, and perhaps even frightening it might have sounded to hear the words of Isaiah being spoken, the promises of John of the Baptist, and the even greater promise of someone who was a virtually unknown to them all: Jesus, who would be greater than all who had come before him.
We live in a different time than they did but this story still relates to us. We all have choices to make. We have to choose which path will we follow day to day. We don’t have to stay lost in the woods wondering which path to take. We can lean on our faith, our church, our friends, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus, to help guide us down new paths to new experiences. These can be our faithful guides, telling us which path we should take.
Prayer: Blessed are You, Lord our God, for You have created a wide and wonderful world in which we can travel. We ask Your blessing upon those who are about to leave on a trip. May You, Holy Guide of Travelers, be their ever-near-companion, spreading the road before them with beauty and adventure. Free that road from harm and evil, and send as their escorts Your holy spirits, Your angelic messengers, who accompanied the holy ones of days past. On this journey, may they take with them as part of their traveling equipment a heart wrapped in wonder with which to rejoice in all they shall meet…May the blessing of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit be upon them throughout their trip; may it shield them from all harm and bring them home again in safety and in peace. Amen. (A travel prayer from Father Edward Hays)
Celine David serves on the national leadership team of AB GIRLS, American Baptist Women’s Ministries. A sophomore in high school, Celine is active in the girls’ ministry in her home church in Utah and brings her enthusiasm and creativity to her leadership in ministry.