As we progress through the season of Advent, we continue with our reflection, practices, and preparation in anticipation of the incarnation of love in the Christ child. This week I have been prayerfully considering the ideas of preparing and repairing.
The Gospel reading below tells of John the Baptizer, the forerunner of Jesus, and whose task was to pave the way for Jesus the Messiah - preparing prepare and repairing the way for the coming King. In John's day it was not uncommon for Royal visits to be prepared for well in advance, and not unlike today, a lot of energy was spent on road construction and repair to ensure the road was in as good a condition as possible - potholes filled, washboards smoothed and the steep inclines and declines reduced to make the Kings travels as comfortable as possible.
John was “a voice shouting from the barren wilderness, ‘Prepare a road for the Lord to travel on! Widen the pathway before him! Level the mountains! Fill up the valleys! Straighten the curves! Smooth out the ruts! 6 And then all mankind shall see the Saviour sent from God.’ - Luke 3:4b-6 TLB
Of course, John is speaking of a different kind of preparation but prepare and repair are still great images. The kind of prepare and repair that John is speaking of is referred to by Christians as repentance. Repentance is much bigger than simply stop doing bad things. Mere moralism won't get us there. Repentance is more about turning towards God. Repentance is turning from our addiction; to seeking our identity and peace in things like power, prestige, money, sex, etc. and instead seeking God for the core things of our heart. A practice of turning to God will quite naturally lead us to a deeper satisfaction, and connection to life but will also cause us to leave naturally our self-destructive behaviours as we learn to live loved. The danger for many of us is we have become more sin focused than Jesus focused. The reality is we can't find life focused on sin - there is no life in death rather to prepare for Jesus we are called to turn afresh to God, look with new eyes, through new lenses of divine love and we are invited anew to be partakers of the divine nature.
The way is made straight using the materials of our lives. Every act of faithfulness, big or small, every act of love, every choice for love, every turning of the cheek, serving others, loving and serving our enemies serve as the building materials of preparing and repairing. In each act of reconciliation, in every turning towards divine love are repairing the breach, we become peacemakers. To this end we become aware that God provides the resources and materials for this work. It is by grace that we can awaken enough to turn even at all, and it is that same grace that provides gifts of desire, strength, inspiration and a rugged hope.
It is in these things that we recognize His coming, His present presence and look for the Kingdom yet to come. It is us awakening within love, within the context of the Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. It postures us, gives us a context to discover a growing awareness of Christ in us the Hope of Glory.
Let us become more aware of the rhythms of preparing and repairing in our everyday lives. Let the reality of God with Us (Immanuel) stir us afresh as we are shaped and formed in the heart image of Christ - the journey of becoming love.
Readings for the Second Sunday of Advent