The Gospel of Luke 3:1-6
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as 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.
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.'”
Let us Pray: Gracious God, Grant that we may find peace as we prepare for our Lord’s birth. May divisions in ourselves and in our families be peacefully resolved. May there be peace in our cities and in the countries of our world. Help us to see the paths of peace in our lives, and then give us the courage to follow them. Lord, let us remember that you only are the giver of lasting peace and that you are always with us. Amen.
Today we relight the candle of HOPE. Now we light the candle for the second Sunday in Advent. This is the candle of PEACE. As we prepare for the coming of Jesus, we remember that Jesus is our hope and our peace.
From the prophet Isaiah: “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” —Isaiah 9:6-7
In ancient times, when a king was going to visit a city, he would send before him someone to herald his coming, someone to announce that he would be arriving soon. The herald would go around the city, and go before the leaders of the city, telling them all, “The king is coming. He will be here any day. As we look at Luke 3, this is what we see going on. The King is coming, and He has sent a herald to announce His imminent arrival. The king, of course, is Jesus Christ.
But the herald, the one who will pronounce His coming is John the Baptist. John has come as a herald to make sure that the kings subjects are well prepared for the kings coming. John has come to prepare the way for the Messiah, to make his paths straight. So, who is this guy? One who comes out of the wilderness, preparing the way of the Lord! One who brings people through water to a new life. Jesus said he was like Elijah, but he was also like Moses, or like Joshua. He did this by preaching in the wilderness, where he attracted great crowds. This is curious because the wilderness is not where the people were. They were in the cities. But spiritually, morally, and politically, they were in the wilderness. John was calling people to repentance, by baptizing, and by heralding the one who was to come. “It’s not about me.” That was the root of John’s message. He preached about someone else, someone who would come after him whose sandal thongs John did not consider himself even worthy to tie. John was sent to ‘prepare the way of the Lord’. He was the PR Events Manager who went ahead of the VIP, making sure everything, everyone, was ready for his coming. John was telling them how to prepare the way for the Messiah and all that they hoped would come with Him. The people wanted freedom and deliverance from Roman occupation, to be restored unto their land with the right to rule themselves, and the Messiah to set Himself up as King in Jerusalem, reigning over the whole world. John’s message though was about the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins and explain how the people can prepare their lives and their communities for these expectations. We need to make sure we’re ready too. Advent is the perfect time for a spiritual spring-clean. Even though Christ has come to the earth, and although he has come to dwell in many human hearts and societies, many more have still not heard of Him, accepted Him, or welcomed Him. The Lord has his eye on those he continues to use as his heralds. We are those heralds. Every Christian is another John the Baptist, boldly drawing others’ attention to the truth and grace of Christ with his words, deeds, and example. Among the many responsibilities each of us has, none is greater or more rewarding than teaming up with the Holy Spirit to prepare hearts for the Lord.
Let us Pray: Holy God, we ask you to help us make time for true preparations this Advent. In the midst of the rush of life, help us to find inner quietness and an awareness of your presence. Let this Christmas be a time when we focus more on others and their needs and utilize the spiritual gifts you give so unselfishly. This we pray in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.