A Call to Prepare the Way

This morning we hear of John the Baptizer (Baptist) in the desert wilderness.
It is the first of a two-part series in Advent featuring John the Baptizer in the desert wilderness.

He is in the uncivilized, unsettled wilderness telling the crowds to “prepare the way”.

Due to our Christmas program next week, we will miss John calling us ‘brood of vipers’ (and a few may be happy to ‘miss’ it).

John the Baptizer, however, is an interesting and fascinating character.

An Irish comedian has a piece entitled ‘Mass Around the World’, which I am not showing simply because his colorful language may not be considered church appropriate, but the description of John the Baptist is perfect. He claims to want his priest to be similar to John, a wild-eyed, crazed heretic riding into town once a week on the back of a donkey and eating honey from a bee’s butt.

According to Luke’s Gospel, John was not only this crazy man but also Jesus’ cousin.

John’s entire mission in life was not to be the Messiah, but since his conception and birth his mission was to prepare the way for Jesus the Christ.

John was essentially to be a road sign that read “Jesus 12 miles ahead” …and John did it well.

John quotes scripture from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), echoing the voice of the prophets throughout our sacred history, who tell us to prepare because the Messiah, the anointed one is coming, who is from the house of David and who will sit on the throne to bring forth a reign of justice and peace that will be ever-lasting.

Who would not be excitedly looking forward to the Messiah?

But, the people over the centuries had lost the light of hope, which easily dims the light of peace, joy, and love as well.

Thus, we have people from the ‘civilized world’ seeking that needed light.
They left the comforts of the civilized world, traveling into the desert wilderness (no one willingly did so at this time), in order to seek out John the Baptizer.

The crowd asks John the Baptizer:

  • Who are you?
  • Are you the one?
  • Are you our long-expected Messiah?
  • Are you the one who will usher in the new kingdom?

The crowd longs for John to say “I am he” …
BUT he says “Whoa, WHOA! NO! He will come but at a time and place I am preparing. He will come but I am not him and I am not even worthy to tie his shoes”.

During Advent, we all have ‘Things to Do’ lists that seem endless.
We are preparing for our guests. We are preparing for Christmas and its festivities.
So, our life gets CRAZY.

Every single day our calendars are full, so as Rob was saying earlier each night the men should be asking their wife where they are expected to be the next day/night. We have come to expect this level of busyness.

And yet, we are called to hear John’s voice “Prepare the way. Make straight his path”.

The nun in our video reminded us that Jesus was born into a world not ready for him.
Jesus was born in a manger because there was no room at the inn.
Thus, we do not need the perfect preparations.

We are called to prepare by being still, by waiting, by being a person and place where hope, peace, joy, love, and finally the light of Christ can enter into our hearts, our homes, and into the world (as a whole).

John reminds us to “prepare the way”.
I want to remind us that it means being still not busy with busyness.

Prepare the way of the Lord. Prepare for hope, peace, joy, love, and the light of Christ.
How? By being still. By practicing hope, peace, joy, and love. By spending time with Christ.

So, despite the craziness of our ‘things to do’ lists and lives, I encourage us to add one more ‘thing’ to it, at the top as a Top Priority… and it is to spend some quiet time with Jesus.

Scriptures were Malachi 3:1-4; Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 1: 68-79; and Luke 3:1-18.
Originally preached on 9 Dec. 2018 at Trinity Lutheran Church (Union City, IN).

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