Reflections on how Christians help each other to grow and mature in loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love their neighbor as themselves.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Prepare the Way of the Lord

            The texts for the second Sunday of Advent speak about preparing the way of the Lord. It’s quite clear in these texts (Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15; Mark 1:1-8) that the Lord we are to be prepared to greet is the one who was born in Bethlehem. It is equally clear that these texts are not about preparing for the birth of the Messiah. Rather, they are about the one who is coming to judge the living and the dead. The Scriptures for this Sunday are looking to the future when the crucified and risen Christ will come to usher in the new heavens and the new earth; the time when his prayer, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” is realized in all fullness. 

            It seems to me that the Scriptures for this Sunday (December 7) admonish the church to be like John the Baptist. In other words, the mission of the church is to prepare the way of the Lord by preparing this planet for the coming reign of God. This means the church is to be a witness to God’s righteousness and justice by proclaiming and living the good news of Jesus Christ for the world described in Psalm 85:10-13 

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;

     righteousness and peace will kiss each other.

Faithfulness will spring up from the ground

     and righteousness will look down from the sky.

The Lord will give what is good,

      and our land will yield its increase.

Righteousness will go before him,

      and will make a path for his steps.

Imagine what could happen if the churches spent the weeks of Advent in fasting, prayer, worship, and serving alongside the poor, the sick, prisoners, and victims of violence and war? What if we stopped abetting the culture’s rush toward Christmas and fasted from its consumerism, gluttony, and self-indulgence? What if the church acted like John and proclaimed the need for repentance and forgiveness of sins? What could happen if the church told the world about how the one who came as a baby born in a Bethlehem stable is the crucified and risen Lord who is coming to judge? 

            “But, in accordance with [God’s] promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of the Lord as salvation” (2Peter 3:13-15a).


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