This Week's Focus -  "Prepare ye the way of the Lord"
     Click the link for Luke 3:1-6  




 Dear Friends,

We know it really is Advent when John the Baptist comes wading toward us out of the Jordan. While these gospel events obviously happened long after the Nativity, John’s message strikes just the right note for our run-up to Christmas: Prepare ye the way of the Lord.

This year the call is more timely than ever. For many this year, the season of expectation is tainted with dread. 2018 has been a year of fires and floods… of school and mall and club massacres… of rising racial tension… of anti-Semitic slaughter… and of unrelenting terror assaults around the world.
As stunned spectators, we have seen the price of being unprepared. We know from long experience that life is full of surprises. But somehow events keep shocking us. We become disoriented, frightened and angry. We cast about for guidance… for security… for leadership. As struggling believers, we turn to God and ask: How can you permit this to happen?

As we will see as Luke’s gospel unfolds in the coming year, Jesus did not come to create heaven on earth. He was here for a short stay and for a specific purpose. And so are we. Jesus came to sacrifice for our salvation… not to move in with us and let the good times roll. In the life and death of Christ, we see that God does not create evil, but he permits it to happen. It is the fire that tests the temper of our souls.

Jesus was no stranger to terror. In a series of events that could have been taken from today’s headlines… He was kidnapped, tortured and murdered by thugs working for rulers who publicly washed their hands of responsibility.

As Christians we work to ameliorate human suffering, knowing we will never eliminate it. To be human is to suffer. That is no surprise. What is surprising is what we are called to do with our suffering… giving it to God as an act of faith… enduring it with confidence as an act of hope… uniting it with Christ as an act of love.

This year the call of The Baptist comes to us incongruously overlaid by scandal, by continued coarsening of civil debate and by the annual orgy of shop ‘til you drop. Yet across the ages, Christians have answered John’s call. And once again, it’s our turn: Prepare ye the way of the Lord.

With the single exception of Jesus, John is arguably the most outspoken figure we meet in the gospels. He may have lived on honey, but he doesn’t sugar-coat his words. And those words apply equally in times of turmoil as in times of peace and prosperity. The danger is that too often we don’t take them seriously under any circumstances.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord: These words are not a sweet seasonal sentiment. They don’t conjure up candy canes and mistletoe. They are marching orders for a lifetime of service to God and neighbor.

So like people who live at the foot of a volcano, we must be prepared… recognizing the signs God is giving us… living in constant awareness that we are here for only one reason. And it’s not to get the most stuff, to avoid pain or to grab all the pleasure we can. We are here to prepare the way of the Lord… to build his kingdom… to actively love and serve him, wherever that takes us.

 It would be very tidy to put a big rhetorical bow on these reflections, to wrap them up with a ringing call to heed John’s call. Case closed. But we know better, and so does God.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord: It’s the work of a lifetime, not a seasonal sentiment. We have heard the words before. Now is the time to act on them. Make this Advent different. Every day, let’s turn our vague intentions into a single, deliberate act of love.

It’s a good bet that few of us are great saints or great sinners. It’s a safe bet that too many of us are spiritually slouching along. Sure, we know we should prepare the way of the Lord, but we’ve got a few really important things to do first. Like everyone who has ever been caught unprepared, we’ll get around to it sometime.

Thankfully, God knows and loves us in our fears and foolishness as well as in our courage and goodness. Give it all to him. For every inch we move towards him, he will come a mile toward us. Let’s sweep aside the junk that litters the way of the Lord. One act of kindness, one act of forgiveness, one moment of devotion at a time…prepare for a Christmas of living and sharing the love of Christ. That is the way of the Lord. Prepare ye!

God love you!


A Reflection for 
The Second Sunday of Advent
©The Reverend Canon David F. Sellery

Copyright © 2018 David Sellery, All rights reserved.

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