Scriptures: Second Sunday in Advent, Year C
- First Reading Malachi 3:1-4 or Baruch 5:1-9 (Apocrypha)
- Canticle Luke 1:68-79
- Second Reading Philippians 1:3-11
- Gospel Luke 3:1-6
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord our Rock and our Redeemer, Amen.
All around us are sounds of the season – wind, Salvation Army bells, secular holiday songs on the radio, with a sacred carol occasionally thrown in. For me at least, certain carols evoke in me that glowing ember of hope that Christmas still has Christ at its core – carols that hearken back to an earlier time.
It’s easy, isn’t it, to put ourselves back into an earlier frame of reference this time of year? Nostalgia overcomes the best of us as memories from holiday experiences in our past embedded in our very beings leap forth, igniting in us that…that…longing.
Have you ever taken the time to really dwell on and examine those longings? What, exactly do we long for? I can only share my own longings, but perhaps you can relate. When this time of year comes around, I long for family closeness – for the palpable love that exists between close nuclear and extended family members. I long for the scent of Christmas cookies baking, of evergreen bows freshly cut. I long for the warm glow of true candlelight flickering from carefully decorated nooks and crannies around the house. I long for the old Advent calendars depicting scenes from the stable with little doors that open up to reveal different elements of the combined Gospel stories between December 1st and December 24th.
Mostly, I long to be surrounded by a loving family that, for the time, seems to be in true unity, where a fully experiential and sensory peace seems to permeate the air. Where it goes the rest of the year I have no idea, but regardless of where it goes, when Christmastime rolls around again, it makes it self fully known once more.
Yet there are also other memories that bubble to the surface during this time of year; memories we identify and struggle to view carefully as single threads woven into the full tapestry of our life’s story.
Memories of longings left unfulfilled, of those who were with us and are with us no longer, of Christmases when it seems the love light has gone out. These memories touch us deeply because they echo to us of wilderness moments. Journeys into our own story moments of darkness when hope has seemed almost snuffed out.
Luke’s gospel this week is a story memory from the time of Jesus – John the Baptist appears, quoting an even older story memory from ancient Bible times. He has heard from God, and the time is at hand for his life purpose to be revealed. He brings a message out of the wilderness to God’s people: “Prepare the way of the Lord!” Can you hear it? Can you sense its immediacy? There, in the midst of wilderness experiences, there is a wilderness gift, the voice of one announcing, “Prepare the way of the Lord!”
Episcopal priest Kyle Matthew Oliver writes, “The greatest gift in our life of faith is that God lives in each of us.” In this time of Advent, this time of waiting and watching for the Light, how might each of us prepare ourselves – both for God’s greatest gift to arrive into our hearts anew – but also to prepare ourselves to be the gracious hosts God asks us to be?
Our Lord comes, gifting us to be bearers of his light. Our Lord empowers us to go and meet others who are lost in their wilderness, bearing God’s comfort and God’s peace. Are you ready to be bearers of the Light? Are you seeking – longing – for something deeper this Christmas season? Come to the table and be fed, O ye Children of God! Then, once you taste and see that the Lord is good, go forth, and in your own home and in your own life, “Prepare the way of the Lord,” both for your own sake and for those for whom you are the bearer of the light. “Prepare the way of the Lord!”
May all glory be unto the One who lived, died, and rose again for us, even Him who is the Christ. Amen? May it be so.
Questions for Reflection
The prophet Malachi says that God is “like a refiner’s re and like fuller’s soap” (Mal. 3:2). Reflect on events of the past year. How has God been working to refine and purify your life or your community of faith?
Where have you experienced wilderness moments this past year? Looking back, can you see where God spoke to you through those experiences? How might you now “Prepare the way of the Lord?”