Baruch 5: 1-9;
Philippians 1: 4-6, 8-11;
Luke 3: 1-6
Intro: the key to success is always good preparation. Today, the Gospel invites us to prepare a way – our way! – for the Lord.
Readings: the Jews were exiled in sorrow and distress. Baruch echoes Isaiah’s message that God will reach out to them, and remove every barrier to His presence in their lives.
Paul rejoices in the Christian witness of the Philippian comm unity and urges it to grow in the wisdom of Christ and love for each other.
Isaiah paints a powerful poetic vision: “Every valley will be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low, winding ways will be straightened and rough roads made smooth.”
The prophet Baruch would have been familiar with that passage, and he echoes it in his own words. He calls his people to leave aside their mourning dress and to live in gladness, because God will make a highway for them to walk again in freedom. This same call is made to us today.
Sometimes on a long journey we can become tired and disillusioned and wonder why we ever began it. Apart from being physically tired, tensions can arise with those who share that journey with us. That’s where we’ve got to try and do a bit of bridge-building, because overcoming personal relationship problems can be much more taxing and tiring than finding the shortest road to our des tination. That’s where we can take Paul’s prayer to heart – increasing our love for each other, and deepening our understanding so that we can always see what’s best.
As God’s people, we’ve got much to offer others, especially at this time of year, even although we may feel it’s been well hijacked by black Friday and other commercial interests.
Now it’s our tum to be road builders and pathfinders for others in our world. It’s up to us to make a highway, a clear way for the Lord, and we do that with His grace, when we take the initiative in loving, in goodness and kindness to all whom we meet, when our knowledge and understanding continue to grow all through our life, and when we come to recognise what’s best. For things to go well in our broken world, it needs the lives of good people to prepare the way of the Lord.
The mountains of which Baruch, Isaiah and the Baptist speak could represent things which block our aware- ness of God in our lives: the valleys could represent the gulf which exists either between ourselves and God, or between ourselves and those around us. It’s a good way of expressing what we need to get rid of, if we are to love God with all our energy, and our neighbour, as ourselves, becauseAdvent is our season of welcome, when we have to consider allowing new people into our lives as we prepare to celebrate the coming of Christ into our world. We may go out to look for them outside our circle, or perhaps closer to home, or they may come to us. but either way, we are called to accept them as Christ
– “For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome.”
Today, look back and see just how far you have come on your journey of faith. Now all you have to do is look for ways to smooth out what still needs sorting before our Lord comes again!