In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
"The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
'Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'" Luke 3:1-6
We live between mountains and ocean, between high peaks and sea level. The wind off the water can be brutal and the beauty and calm can take one's breath away. There are those who see the tremendous beauty in the plains, as I can, but I am still captivated by the clash between water and sky, mountains and oceans. The beauty in the tension and the balance.
We hear today about John the Baptist, preparing the world for the Savoir. His story is foretold by the prophets, his story is the one who is crying in the wilderness. His story seems impossible, and his testimony seems unlikely until it is made manifest in the Christ child. We are invited to make ready for changes in our lives and in our being - the equivalent of flattening out the mountains and filling in the valleys. God is moving towards us anew, bringing new life and new possibilities. We are invited to make ready by being willing to change and be remade.
Today, I ask God to give me the strength to make ready and make room for God's presence anew. May I be willing to change and be remade in this season of Advent. May we all turn around to new possibilities and outlooks and may we be willing to change our outlooks so that we might see God face to face. And may our encounters with God in this Advent season make us more tender and compassionate as we welcome the Christ child into our world.
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.