I like to imagine what it would have been like to live just before the arrival of Jesus. It seems impossible to truly do it justice in my head; a time of darkness, despair and calling out to a God who just wasn’t quite ready to make good on his promise.

This Sunday’s Gospel is the beginning of the account of Mark, who begins his version of the story we know so well by quoting Isaiah, who prophesied about John the Baptist — the quirky locust-and-honey-eating Baptizer who foretold the arrival of the Messiah.

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent which comes from the Latin word adventus (a translation of the Greek word parousia) which refers to the coming of Christ and can be understood three ways — past, present and future

When we read ‘the kingdom of heaven is like’ it is easy to assume that what follows is an allegory in which one character represents Jesus or God as the King. Perhaps this isn’t always the case.

Today I am in a bit of a rush to get this to the press. Not something a competent writer should admit, I know. Perhaps you are here looking for last minute sermon inspiration, and will not judge me too harshly. My ideal self would rather be dealing with something a little lighter than the end of the world, when I’m in a rush, but my predicament is making the point quite nicely.

Here Jesus lays a pretty solid template for when we are faced with difficult discussions. Just war? Immigration? Abortion? Juvenile justice systems? Elections? Referendums? Love God, and love your neighbour.

The religious leaders of Jesus' day were a tricksy bunch. As experts in the Law, they knew the ins and outs of the Torah but, as can so often happen with us religious people, their fascination with the minutiae led them to miss the big picture.

Two key words tie together my thoughts on this passage – absurdity and abundance. 

The story is, in essence, a little bit absurd. There is a servant, who owes an amount so great that it is only through the selling of his own life and the lives of his family that the debt can be repaid.

Sometimes it’s the simple things we can overlook in a text. I’ve never thought to myself, “Why did Jesus ask the question of His disciples here in Caesarea Philippi?”. Feel free to (carefully!) google it — it was quite the place. 

I don’t like swimming in the sea… Or at least I didn’t. It’s a cold, miserable experience filled with seaweed and the constant fear of being washed away by walls of water that seems quite apathetic to the fact that I swim like a 6-month old chihuahua.

I never looked at the passage another way.  I only ever looked at it as a miracle of Jesus which it is but actually there is something even more we can get from it.  I would read this passage and feel like it's not attainable or even not let it sink into my brain or heart.