by Dena Douglas Hobbs
Scripture passage: Matthew 3:1-3
“In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’”(NRSV)
“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”
For the past three years the state highway near my house has been under construction. And by construction I mean MAJOR road construction. Construction like I have never experienced in my life. At first work concentrated solely on pulling up all the trees that were in the path of the new road. The result was a thousand some odd trees lying in piles along the roadside looking for all the world like some “Lord of the Rings” destruction scene.
As work went on I continued to learn that the first step in preparing a path was tearing out and getting rid of anything that would block movement along the path.
The next stage in building the road was adjusting the infrastructure. Power lines were strung on new higher, stronger poles. Work that I don’t even understand was done on water pipes under the ground. The one thing I did understand was that I was without water for several hours on several days as the work went along.
Finally after all this preparatory work was done, people driving large trucks began smoothing dirt in patterns that looked somewhat like a roadway.
Now three years later, people are finally laying asphalt and I believe for the first time that a road will actually be completed in my lifetime.
Living through all this highway construction has forever changed the way I read the advent passage of “Prepare the way of the Lord.” Once upon a time I imagined this verse as people moving a few things out of the way and doing a little smoothing. Now I understand this verse describes a total upending and reconstruction of our lives.
As we prepare for Christ to come again this Advent, it is very likely that we need to do some clearing out to make enough room for Christ to move and breathe and do the work that Christ needs to do in us. This will not be a light moving of a few things. Our Lord is a big Lord who moves in big ways and we need to be prepared for a possible total rearrangement to make room for God’s indwelling presence.
Also, what are the infrastructures in our lives and families that need to be replaced or strengthened so that we can be people who are ready to meet God however God comes to us?
And finally, what actions can we take to smooth out and make plain the places that Christ might use to come into our lives? Are the pathways between us and the poor clear? Have we made plain a way that the marginalized can intersect with our lives?
As we all prepare for the coming of the Lord, I wish you many blessings in the descontruction and construction that will inevitably happen in our our lives. Come Lord Jesus!
Questions to Spark Conversation
-How can we make space for Jesus to more fully inhabit our lives?
-Is there anything we need to remove to make space for Jesus?
-Is there anything we need to add in to make Jesus’ path more clear?
If your kids are still young enough to have a sandbox or train tracks, spend some time building a road together. Clear out the way for the path, make the rough places smooth and uneven places a plain. Build a nice wide road together.
O Lord, we thank you
that you are the one
who came to be with us
and comes to be with us
and will come to us again.
Help us this advent
to make your path
more clear in our lives.
Help us to clear a path
to those through whom
we encounter you in the world.
We thank you that
no matter how long it takes us
to build a path for you,
there is always hope,
for indeed you yourself are the way.
And you promise to never leave us.
Thank you for your undying presence and grace. Amen.