3 A voice is crying out:
“Clear the LORD’s way in the desert!
Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God!
4 Every valley will be raised up,
and every mountain and hill will be flattened.
Uneven ground will become level,
and rough terrain a valley plain.
5 The LORD’s glory will appear,
and all humanity will see it together;
the LORD’s mouth has commanded it.”
Paving on most ancient roads, if any, was rocks or logs, much bumpier than modern roads. When a king traveled from his palace, he would often send work parties to level the highest and lowest spots so he could travel more swiftly and comfortably. Second Isaiah alluded to that custom to promise spiritual preparation for God to come to God’s people. (On December 7 we’ll read Luke 3, in which the gospel writer applied these verses to John the Baptist’s ministry.)
Lord God, sometimes I mistakenly think you’re looking for any excuse to leave my life. Thank you for the powerful reminder in Isaiah 40 that, in fact, you’re always eager to pave a road back into my heart and my life. Amen.
As you receive Christmas cards, place the cards at the dinner table. Each night pray for the members of the family whose cards you received that day. Do the same as you send greetings to others.
During the season of Advent, we are sharing ideas for family activities as we “Countdown to Christmas!” Each day includes a simple way for families to remember what Christmas is all about. See this post and others like it on our @churchoftherez Instagram.
* John Goldingay, Isaiah for Everyone. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015, p. 145.
Preparing. It's December 2nd, and we're naturally already preparing. Decorations are going up. Gifts are being purchased. The closer we get to December 25, the more steadily preparations increase.
What's interesting to me is that our preparations are almost all physical. Decorations go on the wall or the mantel. Gifts accumulate under the tree or peek out from their hiding places. Fridges fill with food and homes fill with people. All of these are physical things, making it entirely possible to physically prepare for Christmas without any spiritual preparation.
I've done that before. I've accumulated all of the right Christmas-y stuff. I've enjoyed the soft light of a decorated Christmas tree. I've thoughtfully purchased each gift. I've checked off all the items on my to-do list. And I've arrived at Christmas Eve service to realize I missed out on the depth available to me had I also prepared spiritually.
Spiritual preparation is trickier than physical preparation. It's not something we can check off of a list, and it won't be obviously missing to those around us (unlike a gift we forget to buy). Yet, it makes all the difference. Over the next few weeks, we have the opportunity to prepare spiritually as well. It makes a difference when our hearts, minds, and lives are open and preparing to encounter Jesus as we celebrate his first entry into our world.
So I've decided that as I'm making my physical preparations for Christmas, I'll reflect on how my life was changed by Jesus' entry into it, and how Jesus' continual entry into my life impacts it. I hope you'll add in a creative way to prepare fully this season so that when Christmas Eve service comes, you are ready for the depth of joy, hope, love, and peace available as we worship a God who so loved the world that he sent his only son.
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