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Advent, part 1: Prepare the Way for the Lord

In the desert prepare the way for the Lord;

make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be raised up,

every mountain and hill made low;

the rough ground shall become level,

the rugged places a plain.

And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,

and all mankind together will see it.– Isaiah 40:3b-5

We’ve entered into Advent again, the season of waiting for God. We remember the people of Israel waiting in the time before Jesus’ birth for the Messiah who was to establish a kingdom of justice and peace. We give thanks for God’s presence already in the world, and we mourn our distance from God, and we wait for God’s kingdom to come on this earth.

It’s painfully clear that our own efforts aren’t enough to bring the Kingdom. Our political efforts don’t bring peace between nations or establish a truly just government in our own. Our personal efforts don’t keep an unbroken peace in our families or in our hearts. Whether we listen to the news, listen to our neighbors in their discouragements, or take quiet time to attend to our own souls, we are confronted by our brokenness and our distance from God. We see the same brokenness that the prophets mourned for, and we share their longing for the coming of the Kingdom.

But it’s also clear that our waiting for God is not passive. We need to prepare the way for the Kingdom to come. We need to practice honesty, courage, neighbor-love and attention to God so that we can hear and answer when God calls us. We need to build connections with our neighbors that allow us to support each other and hold each other accountable as we make our way toward Kingdom living. We need to have our hearts set on the gifts of the Kingdom and not on the pleasures and conveniences built into the current system which is neither peaceable nor just. We need to keep our eyes open to see the Light that shines in darkness and is not overcome.

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