John the Baptist screams “Prepare the way of the Lord!” and that is what this Advent season is about. It is about preparing for the Lord, but what does that mean? How does one prepare for the Lord? When one prepares for a new infant to enter a home, there are preparations that are made. A space needs to be cleared for them, infants have needs to help them grow. They need food and shelter, so does the Lord. Second, all that can harm them has to be removed. John found a cleared space in the desert, far from the distractions of everyday life. He retreated to a place that allowed him to prepare, he prayed. He then proclaimed a baptism for the forgiveness of sins. He wished to remove all that could keep that Lord from him. He went to a quiet space and protected it by taking inventory of all in life that was contrary to the Lord. That today is the examination of conscience that come before the confession and repentance of our sins. If John was to make way for the Lord, and that is what we do during Advent, we have to prepare ourselves to receive him, and that requires removing all that stands in the way between me and my Lord. Prayer and Confession. Prepare the way for the Lord!
Isaiah says “Go up on to a high mountain” but why climb that mountain, why put in all of that effort? To climb the mountain is to get far from the flood waters, it is to do our best to keep from drowning, and it is to await salvation. It is clinging to life until help comes, and it is the urgency of escaping a tsunami. That is the type of preparation Advent requires. It is to look at ourselves to prepare the best we can, and it is to look at the dangers that are around us so that we are not swept away in the flood waters. There is looking at our life, there also is looking at the world we live in. We should perhaps open our eyes to the world around us. Be observant, be vigilant, and be engaged in the world around us.
Preparation though is not all gloom and doom, it is the realization that something better is coming. It is remembering that we are not alone, or doomed for suffering. Our sins are forgiven, and there is hope, and there is joy. Hope and Joy are comforting words to someone swimming in a sea of despair; and there are a lot of people in this world that are truly desperate. Might our preparation this season include lending hand to those that are overwhelmed? Giving them a branch to cling to until they too are able to sing of Joy, to extend some hope in this world. Be compassionate.
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths: all flesh shall see the salvation of God.