Prepare ye the way of the Lord. Prepare ye the way of the Lord.
Words of St. John the Baptist set to song in the musical, Godspell.
But more than words and lyrics – it leads us to the second question we should answer during Advent on our journey to Bethlehem: how do we, you and I, prepare the way of the Lord?
Once again I think if we pay attention to the other readings for today – we find the answer. . .
I think the prophecy of Isaiah calls us to three things that we need to do to prepare the way of the Lord – to come into our hearts and lives.
First, we give comfort to people – not turmoil or unrest, or agitation.
We give comfort – we strive to make people and situations better – not to stir the pot or fuel controversy. We speak and act tenderly toward others – we lift them up rather than put them down.
Second, we go up onto a high mountain and cry out at the top of our voices the Good News of the Gospel – we proclaim God’s mercy, love, forgiveness, and grace to others ----- which doesn’t mean we all have to become street preachers or evangelists --- but by our words and actions we show that the transforming action of God’s gifts are at work in our lives ---
which leads us to be even better at comforting people. We want to be those who others look forward to seeing and welcoming into their midst – rather than turning and running the other way when they see us coming.
The third thing Isaiah would have us do to prepare the way for the lord ---- is to straighten out our lives --- seek forgiveness for our sins and ask for the grace to be better people.
“Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low, the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.”
This calls us to be honest with ourselves – to be able to admit that we are all a little rough around the edges – and we need to acknowledge and name those rough spots in our lives, in our families, and in our community and church – so that we can deal with them rather than avoiding them. Because avoidance just allows things to fester and stew rather than to heal.
What are those rough spots in my life and yours that we need to deal with in order to be more and more the image of Christ to others?
In our second reading – Peter comes right out and asks the blunt question that should be on every Christian’s mind: what sort of persons ought you to be?
And like, Isaiah, he gives us three specific things to work on:
Being patient with others – as God is patient with us. If we allow ourselves to get caught up in the busyness of Advent only as a preparation time for December 25th – our stress will only increase as we find we don’t have time to get everything finished that we want.
And as stress increases – so does impatience – with ourselves and others.
And as stress increases – so does strife. So Peter also asks us to work at being at peace – again with ourselves and with one another. . . What good does it do to prepare for the coming of the prince of peace if we – and everyone around us is in turmoil?
Finally Peter asks us to be men and women of righteousness – which is the quality of being morally true or justifiable.
We live in a world where people tend to believe that their ways are right in their own eyes. True or false become relative, and many believe they can do whatever they think or feel is right.
But as followers of Jesus Christ – we are called to a higher standard – to walk in God’s ways – not our own.
In its deeper spiritual meaning, righteousness is the quality of being in right relationship with God and those we live with, walk with, and worship with.
This might account for a lot of rough country that needs to be made smooth in our lives. . .
In short, as the Psalmist tells us – we want to see the kindness of the Lord ---- so that we can become God’s kindness to others.
Probably much more difficult than we may have thought. . . difficult, yes. Impossible – no way – because everything is possible with God.
No one prepared the way for the Lord better than John the Baptist. And he once told us his secret: I must decrease – as Christ increases within me.
Perhaps that is a good summary of the active watching and waiting we have to do on our journey to Bethlehem -------- in order to make sure that Christ finds a welcome place in our hearts when we come to December 25th. . .
Prepare ye the way of the Lord.
Prepare ye the way of the Lord.
Moments in time...