Advent 2022 Devotion - Second Sunday in Advent

Advent 2022 Devotion - Second Sunday in Advent

December 04, 2022

December 4, 2022

By: Rev. Doug Cue, Golden Valley District Superintendent
 
Read: Isaiah 11:1-10,  Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19, Romans 15:4-13, Matthew 3:1-12

Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord
 
If you listen, you can hear it. No…it’s not the sound of the holiday Muzak pumping through the store speakers. No…it’s not the sound of the “hustle and bustle”…or the urgency and preference and unawareness all rolled up into one. Nor is it the conscious and verbal sighs that sneak past our lips as they find expression. 
 
Shhh…listen again…you can almost hear it…
Prepare ye the way of the Lord.
Prepare ye the way of the Lord.
 
This is the sound of the 2nd week of Advent.
 
And where is the sound coming from? From the banks of the river. Take a look. In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” (Matthew 3:1-3)  

Take a closer look. As you listen, what do you see?  Scruffy old buzzard down there by the river…wild honey and pieces of gnawed on locusts stuck in his beard. He’s got some camel hair clothes draped around him…only thing keeping them on is a belt wrapped around his waist. My hunch is he not only looks scruffy…with camel hair clothes he smells scruffy too. And yet…can’t you hear it?
Prepare ye the way of the Lord.
Prepare ye the way of the Lord.
 
We are told that…the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. (Matthew 3:5-6) Can’t you hear it as it echoes out…Prepare ye the way of the Lord. They heard it, and as they heard it, they thronged to him. 

Perhaps they remembered how they had once received a promise…that “a shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;” (Isaiah 11:1-4) 

Oh…I am pretty certain they heard it.  If you’re not convinced, notice who he singles out…“But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. (Matthew 3:7-8)  
 
What would this chorus of “Prepare ye the way of the Lord”  have meant to those who heard it?  May well have meant many things to each one of them.  Hard to say. A parallel passage in Luke’s gospel may provide some insight.  The crowds who gathered asked John, “What should we do?”  (Luke 3:10)  John’s response might surprise you. 

  • He mentions…“Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” (Luke 3:11)  
  • To a tax collector he offers…“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” (Luke 3:13)  
  • To soldiers he proposes…“Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone,” (Luke 3:14).  
  • To the entire gathered crowd he says…“I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3:16 & Matthew 3:11)

Does this not seem to have a certain Wesleyan ring to it?  Perhaps it is just my old ears, but “preparing for the way of the Lord” seems to entail some demonstration of the ability to share, the ability to be fair, and the ability to be humble. Or perhaps a more familiar rendition…

  • Do No Harm (be fair). Treat all as you would be treated. Don’t be content with the one extreme of nepotism & partiality and the other extreme of neglect.  
  • Do Good (share). Selfishness is never an option. Share your love.  Share your things. Share your time. Share your life…with others.
  • Stay in Love with God (humility).  God is God and we are not.  

“Preparing for the way of the Lord” seems to involve more than just straightening out the heart. It includes examining our motives, our intentions, our decisions, our vocations, our homes, our relationships, our lives and our world as we remember the prophet’s promise…that “a shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;” (Isaiah 11:1-4)
 
“Preparing for the way of the Lord” involves that we Do No Harm, Do Good, and Stay in Love with God as we anticipate and live into a reality where the rejected become essential, the unwelcome get included, and the flawed get forgiven.
 
Friends, may Advent bless you with anticipation as we prepare the way.  Apologies for the ear-worm…but here it comes again. Can’t you hear it?

Prepare ye the way of the Lord.
Prepare ye the way of the Lord.