12/23/18 – Rough Road Ahead

Posted on : Dec 20th, 2018 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Every Advent we hear these words: “Prepare Ye the Way of our God!”  Without the Elizabethan, “King James” language, the message is this:

“Prepare the way of our God,

    make God’s 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.’”

One would think by now “the way” would be prepared!  However, what the prophet Isaiah knew and proclaimed 6 centuries before the birth of Jesus, and what we know and proclaim some 2,000 years after John the Baptist shouted these words, is that life is often rough.  The road is not smooth.  The playing field is not level, it is very much tilted toward those with power and wealth. 

Isaiah and John The Baptist knew that there was a lot of crookedness in life and a lot of rough times ahead.  And yet, they also knew that one day God would send us someone to straighten out the crooked, smooth the rough, and level the playing field for all, especially those for whom it is never level.

Today, we now know that that someone was not just Jesus, but also, us.  We are the ones that are called to level the playing field, straighten out the crooked and smooth the rough places. 

Just think about the migrants coming to the US from Central America.  They are fleeing their home country, seeking asylum in the United States.  I find it more than just a little bit ironic that the US government destabilized the governments of many of the countries where the violence and corruption is so unbearable today.  It is that violence and corruption that is causing large numbers of people to flee, leaving behind everything they have and know and seeking asylum in the United States.  They are living John and Isaiah’s words of hope that one day:  the crooked shall be made straight, the rough places shall be made smooth, the playing field will be level, and that one day, they shall see the salvation of God.

Our transgender friends also are another example of what Isaiah and John the Baptist are calling us to do.  Almost every transgender person I know has shared the agony of living in a culture that allows the gender that was assigned to them at birth to be more valid than their own inner knowledge of who they are.  Imagine being told from the time of your birth that you are a boy, when you know yourself to be a girl; or being told from birth that you are a girl when you know yourself to be a boy.  The obstacles our transgender sisters, brother and friends encounter are nothing short of the things Isaiah calls us to clear away, remove, unblock and level out. 

A contemporary rendering of Isaiah and John’s prophetic call is this:

Wherever there is anything that blocks our life-path,

Clear it, remove it, unblock it, level it out.

And then, the salvation of God shall appear.

Those words are as meaningful to us today as they were when Isaiah and John first spoke them.  We still have a lot of work to do.  We have a lot of clearing, removing, unblocking and leveling out to do in our lives and for the people of our world.  The good news is that when we do this work, we do experience the salvation of God in our lives and in our world.  More on Sunday!

Advent Blessings to you, to those you love, and to our world.

Dan

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, 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 our God,

    make God’s 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.’”

 

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

 

 

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