Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Clearing the Way for the Lord

Isaiah 40:3-5
3  Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting,
“Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord!
Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!
4  Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills.
Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places.
5  Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together.
    The Lord has spoken!”

After a year full of activity and ups and downs, personally, locally and internationally, I was recently reflecting on this passage of hope about John the Baptist and the Christ who would come. While these verses are full of many things, here are a couple that I've been thinking about.

One observation is that our world today is not that different than it was in the time of Isaiah.  Wilderness and wasteland are still apt descriptors for many places where there is chaos, injustice, suffering and war. Whether it's our personal lives, issues in our families and communities, or conflict in Syria, (insert place _______), and among world leaders, this planet is groaning (sometimes screaming) for change and help.

In this passage is the call for God's justice and the invitation to be a part of levelling the mountains and clearing the rough places for the Messiah to be revealed. We believers are all called to the privileged task of actively sharing God's love with family, neighbours, coworkers, even strangers and enemies.  I wonder how, exactly, I can remember this task as a privilege when the kids are fighting, and the landlord raises his asking price for the Wood Shop, and our staff don't see eye to eye, local traffic is exasperating, and violence seems ready to erupt around all the corners and in the lives of so many people we work with here.  I simultaneously wonder at how much LOVE and JUSTICE are all the more needed in times like these.

Lord, help us to do all the hard work of love.  And help us to count it as a privilege to do so.

Finally, we are reminded to hope in the promise that God's glory WILL be revealed, and that ALL the people will see it. God is faithful, and in this season of Advent, we remember that faithfulness in the glory-revealed-form of Emmanuel, God with us; Jesus, the gift sent for all the world (universe!).  Even in the wasteland, we hope for what is to come.  Our call is the same as Isaiah's, as John's, to level the mountains, clear the way, shout about Jesus who came, who still comes to us in the middle of all the messes and loves us, and who will come again to once-and-for-all make everything right.  Even in our wastelands, we fight for love, hope, justice.

God will have the last word, and God will get all the glory.  Give us eyes to see it!

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