Prepare the Way
“Prepare the Way"
It’s hard to believe, but Advent is already upon us. Time seems to go by at an ever-increasing rate these days, especially as the busiest culture in history! Even so, the rapid pace of life is one of the reasons to love the journey of the liturgical year. Without it we would blow past three sets of Decembers before we realized where we were. We are not only busy people, we are forgetful (wait...what was I saying?). Just when the clutter of our meetings, school projects, and sporting events seem to have crowded out everything else in life that matters, we find ourselves once again at a central place in God’s story: the expectation of Christ’s coming.
Advent, like many other Christian seasons and symbols, is deep and rich with many facets of meaning. One of the beautiful things about Christian time is that it transcends our “traditional” views of time. The celebration of advent (or any Christian season) is a simultaneous look backwards and forwards. We stand in the present moment and remember the past while anticipating the future. As we celebrate Advent, we vicariously place ourselves in the position of God’s chosen people (in the past) eagerly awaiting the appearance of their Messiah; we also remember that we are God’s chosen people (present), the Church, awaiting the return of our Savior to establish his reign on the earth (future). We experience the “worship time machine” every Advent and every week in church!
More than just a precursor to Christmas, Advent (from the Latin adventus meaning “arrival,” “coming” or “approach”) is a season of double waiting. There is a waiting for Christmas to arrive to celebrate the Nativity and rejoice in the birth of Jesus Christ as a human. But we also wait for the return of the risen Savior to complete the work of redemption. We will examine some of the incredible (and sometimes disturbing) promises that Jesus made to come and claim his Bride at the end of the age. The “arrival” of the Lord has a double meaning.
This year our theme for the advent sermon series is “Prepare the Way,” taken from the words of John the Baptist in Luke chapter three. John was the prophetic voice embodying the message from Isaiah written centuries earlier: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3).
In this series we will indeed remember the story of Jesus as we prepare for the celebration of Christmas. We will remember that from a remote region of a Roman-occupied Israel, the Savior of the world emerged and revealed himself to a small band of ordinary people that he was God made flesh. But as I mentioned earlier, it is a season for us not to simply look back at a historical series of events, but to look inward and to look forward. We need to look back at the story and forward to Christ’s coming, but we also need to look at ourselves and ask the question “Am I prepared for Christ to come?”
Are we prepared for his arrival? Have we made room in our hearts for him? Are we prepared to remember the “reason for the season” as the cliche goes? Are we prepared to welcome his return in victorious triumph, or are we too distracted building our own little kingdom?
As you listen to the songs, the scriptures and the sermons this Advent season, I invite you to let God reset your heart, mind and rhythms. Let him give you pauses to hear the story again, or perhaps for the first time. Let the cry of the scruffy, wild-eyed prophet in the camel-hide robe hit your heart this season: “Prepare the way of the Lord!"
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