In this Second Sunday of Advent, as we await the coming of our Savior, we meet John the Baptist. He preached in the wilderness for baptism of repentance and forgiveness of sins:
4as 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.
5Every 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;
6and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'” (Luke 3:4-6)
How shall we prepare the way of the Lord? When Kings come visit a town, the path leading to the town would be made better so that the ride would be smoother. Likewise, to prepare the way of the Lord, we are called to make the paths straight, level the valleys and the hills, make crooked ways straight, and the rough ways smooth. We prepare the way of the Lord, with the anticipation and expectation that all flesh shall see the salvation of God. The way of the lord shall be made straight and leveled. Where things are lacking, it will be filled up. Where things are in excess, it will be taken away. Where things are off the path, it will be brought back into the path. And if still not ready, the rough ways will be made smooth.
What are we lacking? What are we in excess of? Are we off the path? Are we still stuck in rough ways? Let us open our eyes, open our ears and let our spirit be moved by the Spirit of our God. Look all around us. People are starving of food, of warmth and love. We might be the very ones lacking those things as well. If we are lacking those things, let us make our needs made known to God and those around us that we can get help. There are people in this world who are not seen, heard, or known to others. Let our voices speak up to advocate for them. We live in a world of uncertainties. We live in a world where you might not come home alive after going to a parade because a driver decides to drive his car into the crowds, or we might not come home safely after going to school, because your classmate decides to shoot fellow students and teacher. Not to mention, with the pandemic, we now have a variant omicron spreading what appears to be at a faster rate than the strand of virus we had previously known. In these uncertain times, let us be encouraged by God’s word. Let us await the coming of the Lord in joyful expectation of our salvation.
As followers of Christ, we know that we are called to forgive, to repent and to love. Let us become people who can receive the words written in Philippians 1:3-11.
3I thank my God every time I remember you, 4constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. 7It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. 9And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight 10to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:3-11)
Let us become a church so that people would thank God every time they remember us. Let us not cease praying with joy for one another and for others, especially those who are grieving from losing their loved ones or living in fear of their own very lives not knowing when and whether they are safe from the virus or where the next mass shooting might happen. When we receive or encounter upsetting news, we might wonder, will our lives amount to anything good? The answer is a resounding yes. God began good work in each of us. Let us have confidence that God who has begun a good work among us will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. We are not only encouraged to think this way, but it is right for us to think this way about ourselves and of each other, that God will complete the good works God has started in each of us, because we trust in God who is good and faithful.
Let each of us reach out to one person at a time, friends, family or strangers around us. God as our witness, let this be our prayer that our love, filled by God’s love, may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight of Christ Jesus so that we can help each of us to determine what is best to do with our gifts, talents, and time. Pray to God to let us know how each of us can connect with those who feel isolated, hurt, or grieving. Let us be there for one another during these uncertain times where our own safety seems at risk whenever, wherever. If you can’t be safe from mass shooting in your own a church, in a school, in a movie theater, in healthcare facility, or attending events in your neighborhood, where shall we go?
We have a sanctuary where we are enveloped in the grace of God. Church is where believers of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior are gathered together praising and worshiping God. We are not safe when we are in a building, which we call a church. We are safe when we are in the company of those we worship with and pray with. We are safe knowing that whether in life or in death, that God is with us. And when the day of Christ comes, may we be pure and blameless before God for having produced the harvest of righteousness, not righteousness that points fingers at who has done something wrong, but righteousness that brings others to know God which can only come through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
As we prepare the way of the Lord during the advent season, let our prayers for each other be as Paul states in his letter to Philippians: that we thank God for each other; be assured that good works God started in us will be brought to completion; and that our love will overflow with the knowledge of God. Let us in love, ask for forgiveness from God and from each other for the wrong we have done and things we haven’t done. Let us repent and turn from the ways that have grieved God and those we have hurt. Let us in love reach out to the people whom God has put us in close proximity to. Let’s rejoice together in the salvation of God now and forever as we make time to come together and to be together. Now is the time to prepare the way of the Lord, and to make God’s 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 made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Amen.