“Fill every valley up, tear every mountain down; prepare a way for the Lord.” In these words, of the prophet Isaiah adapted from Luke’s Gospel which we hear on the second Sunday of Advent, the message is very clear. Quite literally, John the Baptist is urging people to ‘prepare the path’ by removing everything that will stand in the way of the coming of Jesus. John’s preaching of the coming of the Lord is a key theme of the Advent season. As John’s preaching and baptising prepared the way for Jesus, we too are called to prepare ourselves for Jesus’ coming.
Once October passes, a brief glance around the shopping centres will indicate that the time to prepare for Christmas has arrived. We are all fully aware of the need for us to be ‘prepared’ for Christmas in the best possible way. We want everything to be perfect so we plan, buy, cook, wrap, send out and call in. In our current climate, why is it so important for our political leaders that the borders are open for Christmas? They too want everything to be perfect so people can gather together with their loved ones for the celebration. They want the “mountains” of closed borders flattened, the “valleys” of travel restrictions filled in and the “crooked paths” of lock down straightened out. Don’t we all?
Quite often, the amount of time and effort that we put into the physical preparation for the celebration of Christmas far outweighs the amount of time and effort we put into the spiritual preparation of getting ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Now more than ever, it is time for the balance to swing back. It is quite fitting that the “theme” for the second week of Advent is Peace. As we light the ‘Peace’ candle, we remember that God has called us to be peacemakers in our world. At a time when current events seem to be pitting one human against the other, states and nations against each other and where greed and self-interest are predominant, we are called to respond to the Advent message and be peacemakers in our own circles.
This Advent, how about straightening out our own crooked paths—our own crooked relationships and attitudes and being bearers of peace. We can allow the peace which Jesus brings to permeate our lives and guide the ways we interact with each other and our communities. Then we will be ‘preparing the way for the Lord.’ Wherever there is a need for peace this Advent, let us be the instruments of that peace which Jesus brings and let us take the time to be still and know that God is with us.