The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” ’…
One week left! So how many emails did you get today promising free shipping or half off priority shipping or 35% off or 40% off or perhaps a gift card to use later? Everyone is in the last minute crunch. And just as we enter the final stretch of all this waiting, it sometimes gets a little difficult to remember why we do it at all. How long have we waited? Well, this year, we’re only 18 days into it. Good thing we weren’t part of those who waited for centuries upon centuries, trying their best to ready the world and ready their souls. Good thing we weren’t there. We’re probably not that patient. So, are you prepared for what will come? Are you prepared for that for which we’ve been waiting?
I must admit that waiting is hard for me. But it’s because it’s sort of a strange notion. I want so badly for that which I’m waiting to come and yet, the “perfectionist” part of me knows I’m not ready. I mean, there’s always so much more to do, right? So, what if you turn on your computer or your television or whatever it is that’s the first thing you look first thing in the morning at and find out, horror of horrors, that Christmas arrived 6 days early this year? Ugh oh! That would be bad. After all, we’re not ready!
I wonder what it was like that first Christmas. After all, they had had centuries of waiting behind them so surely, surely they were ready. And yet, don’t you think Mary and Joseph spent at least a little bit of time talking to each other: “Really? Now? Now is really not a good time. Why can’t we wait until we’re married, maybe wait until we’ve got a little bit of savings in the bank, or perhaps we should have another child first and practice. I mean, really, this is a lot to ask. We’re really not ready. Good grief, we don’t even have a reservation!” And those shepherds? “Now? We have to go now? What am I supposed to do, just leave these sheep wandering on the hillside. SURELY, you can wait just until we’ve got everything together, everything worked out.” And what about the innkeeper: “Oh come now, NOW? Good grief, this is the first time that we’ve boasted 100% occupancy! And NOW you come?” And those poor wise men from the East: “OK, I thought I had made it. I thought this was the job of jobs. And you want me to go where? The other way. NOW? Oh, come on, let me do this for awhile, maybe stock some savings away. It’s not all that bad. That is not good planning.”
Do you really think the world was ready? Do you really think that they were all that different from us? When are you ready to have your foundations shaken to the core and your whole world turned upside down? Maybe the lesson of Advent is not to make sure that all of the last minute details are done but to teach us to prepare to be surprised, prepare to follow wherever God leads. That’s the way you prepare the Way. God will come when God will come. We don’t have to have everything perfect; we just have to pay attention.
God did not wait till the world was ready, till nations were at peace. God came when the Heavens were unsteady and prisoners cried out for release. God did not wait for the perfect time. God came when the need was deep and great. In the mystery of the Word made flesh, the maker of the Stars was born. We cannot wait till the world is sane to raise our songs with joyful voice, or to share our grief, to touch our pain. God came with Love. Rejoice! Rejoice! And go into the Light of God. (“First Coming”, by Madeleine L’Engle)
Reflection: OK, this one’s hard…What do you have left to do to prepare for Christmas? Take a look at your last minute details. Now cross one off. Ignore it. And instead of burying yourself in the details, look up. THAT’S the way you prepare the WAY.
Grace and Peace,