Prepare The Way! ... umm How?
By Cynthia Nebo
Prepare the way! (How???)
We’re already in the second week of advent?! How did this happen?
So just like the rest of 2017, Advent has come and is already flying by; work companies and teams are arranging Secret Santa bonanzas, Christmas ‘do’s’, ‘dinners’, and ‘parties’ are all being advertised and celebrated; those eager and bold enough may already be seen basting their turkeys: and some of us “hardcore Adventees” are standing here protesting: but it’s NOT Christmas yet; it’s Advent!
And this is the scene we see in our Second Sunday readings (well, not EXACTLY...).
Advent always brings to the spotlight the person of John the Baptist. Jesus’ cousin; the one who didn’t even need to see Jesus, but only to feel his soon-arriving presence in the womb-next-door, to dance for joy in anticipation of Jesus’ coming!
The one who stayed in the wilderness, who ate locusts’ and wild honey, who spent his whole life and ministry preparing himself to prepare us for his coming: and who now steps out to fulfil his mission to shout out in the wilderness; to
‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight.’
From the beautifully simple and humble preparation of Mary at the start of Advent, we are now directed to the bold, far out- and yet still simple preparation of John the Baptist.
The buzz word of Advent is definitely PREPARE! But all this ‘preparation’: how do we get it right??
The key is to remember the message of John’s preaching:
John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptised to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. [Mk1v4]
So it shouldn’t be just about preparing our houses, our stomachs, our calendars; but let the focus be the preparation of our hearts and souls!
It’s the time to reflect and change; to re-straighten our own paths if we have veered off; to fill our hearts and lives and souls and mouths with the real message of what (or rather, WHO) we’re preparing to receive this Christmas.
Jesus wants to come to us in a radical and new way this Christmas, unlike any other in the past: and John is the message alert!
Praise God that we have this person, this season, this time, to remind us and allow us to get ready, to prepare ourselves SPIRITUALLY to be in the best shape we can be when He comes!
IMPORTANT NOTE- This ‘spiritual preparation’ can look like whatever you want it to look like! Our individual relationships with Jesus are unique, and as long as we have that connection and spiritual engagement between Him-and-Me; every person’s preparation is going to look different also.
Go to confession! What a blessing to have such an enriching cleansing and renewal of our hearts. And the obvious way to receive that vital sacramental blessing that tells you: God Forgives My Sins.
Pray into the creed. The major feast days/sacraments always involve that renewal, restatement of our baptismal vows. Really entering into the core values of what we profess about our coming Saviour is a strong way to enter into this true message of Christmas that John proclaims when he baptises the masses!
Speak to the Holy Spirit. As John proclaims, Jesus ‘will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’ We have been given the Holy Spirit from God, right from our own baptism! Interaction with this Divine Person is a sure-fire way to receive the guidance we need through this Advent-tide.
And, of course, let me be clear: there’s nothing wrong with our other forms of preparation! Go to the Christmas do’s, decorate the trees, shop for the dinner, plan the calendar (after all, John did dance for joy himself!) But may we all remember and make priority for the true preparation that must be done this Advent.
All for Jesus, through Mary, with the intercession of John the Baptist.