“I lay in fetters, groaning; you came to set me free. I stood, my shame bemoaning; you came to honor me. A glorious crown you give me, a treasure safe on high That will not fail or leave me as earthly riches fly.” Mark 1:1-8 The second stanza of our hymn is a story of unexpected salvation. “I lay in fetters, groaning; you came to set me free.” In the midst of life’s struggles, when we feel the most lost, broken or alone, Jesus comes to bring hope and second chances. The news is almost more than we dare to believe: Is it true? Is it true for me? The Gospel of Mark begins not with a trip to the manger, but with the story of John the Baptist. John is calling the people to prepare for the coming of the Lord. The people have been waiting for God to come and help them. And now, John says, the long-anticipated Messiah is here. The news is almost more than the weary people dare to believe. But John’s call will lead to salvation for them—and for us: Repent, for the one is coming who will forgive your sins. Lord, we wait for you to come and set us free from despair, shame, emptiness and suffering. Come quickly. Amen.