Against the backdrop of ISIS, a climate on the brink of environmental disaster, shootings in Paris, San Bernardino and Colorado Springs, Advent arrives. We hear again the voice of the prophet crying 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 3:4-6
I’m reminded that Jesus was born into an anxious, fear-filled world. An occupying force ruled Jerusalem. The people of Israel walked on tiptoe, lest they upset the delicate balance of peace. One sign of insurrection would bring about the swift and brutal response of the Roman government. This was a world waiting for answers, hoping for a messiah. Here was a world seeking light that would pierce its darkness. So it is that Zachariah speaks with joy when his own son John was born, of the one who is to come. “And you child shall be called prophet of the Most High for you shall go before the Lord to prepare his ways . . . By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us – to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:76, 78-79
In our own dark moments, we too seek the one who leads to peace. We seek the one who quiets troubled souls, comforts the distressed and heals the disenfranchised. We seek the one who gives light in our darkness. In Advent, we wait for God’s answers. We wait in the assurance that God who holds the future is already preparing a way for each of us. So, as we wait, let us sing the carols, write our cards, decorate our homes, but let us also pray for peace and work for peace. Let us pray for healing among the nations and in our communities. Let us give of ourselves and our wealth to make life brighter for another. Let us prepare our hearts for the gifts of Christmas and the wonder of a Savior’s birth.