Advent Meditations: Week 2 – “Prepare the Way”

(Light two blue candles and read the verses below.)

 

Mark 1:1-8, from the CEB

The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah:

Look, I am sending my messenger before you.
He will prepare your way,
a voice shouting in the wilderness:
Prepare the way for the Lord;
make his paths straight.”

John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

 

Commentary by Rev. Barbara Wiechel

Whenever a celebrity makes an appearance, an advance team comes first, ensuring that everything is set up for the best possible effect. The team inspects the site, orders what equipment will be needed, and often plans for the comfort of the celebrity. That might include ordering special snacks, entertainment options, transportation and comfortable spaces for waiting and preparing. Jesus’ advance team is a wild man living off the land, wearing home-made clothing, and shouting for people to change their hearts and lives. We are told that all the people who hear of this prophet head for the Jordan to be baptized by John. To be baptized is to make a commitment to make a way for the Lord to arrive. It is not the end, but the beginning, of our life with Jesus Christ. The prophet Isaiah, who is slightly misquoted by the gospel writer, says that valleys will be raised, mountains brought low, and uneven ground made level, that God’s glory might arrive. Advent reminds us there is work to be done, in our lives and in the world, if we are to prepare a way for God. The advance team tells us what must be done, and we must ready ourselves and our world for the arrival.

What are the mountains that we need to bring low? Might it be high opinions of worth that prevent us from seeing flaws in ourselves or others? What are valleys that need raised? Are we called to care for and about those who live in poverty, who lack education or training, who are suffering from addiction, violence, indifference? Where are the rough places that we might smooth out? Could it be our responses to those with whom we disagree, or our busy lives that leave no room for God? What are some of the ways we will go about the work of filling valleys, lowering mountains and smoothing rough places to make a way?

Let us pray.

O God,

     how often we invite you into our lives,

          but fail to make a way for your arrival.

Give us the tools we need to lower our mountains,

     fill our valleys and smooth our rough spots.

Then give us the will to live into the work

     to which we are called through baptism,

          that we might change our hearts and lives,

          through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 

 

 

 


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