"He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: 'A voice of one calling in the desert, "Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountian and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God's salvation.'""
The passage from Luke is the beginning of John the Baptist's ministry- one calling people to repentance. Luke quotes Isaiah 40 as John is one calling out in the desert to prepare the way for the Lord. On Sunday, we're going to focus on how we prepare ourselves for God.
Just outisde of Milford, a new shopping center is going up. For the last several weeks/months, there have been heavy equipment on the property clearing brush, leveling the ground, and moving dirt. These preparations are necessary for the buildings that will be placed on the properties. This site preparation has a practical function. There is another function of the site preparations- people begin to ask questions; "What's going on here?" "I wonder what they are building?" "When will they be complete?" In a way, the preparation of the site is a marketing technique. It piques ones interest in what is going on. If it is a store or restaraunt that we enjoy, then we wait in anticipation for the construction to be completed.
The quotation of Isaiah and Luke speaks of a construction project. The valleys will be raised, the mountains will be made low. The crooked places will be straightened out. The rough patches will be made smooth. And everyone will see God's salvation. These verses tell of a great reversal of nature. The lowly will be raised up and the high and mighty brought down.
Out near the Jordan River, John called people to prepare their hearts for someone greater. He called people to prepare their heart by repenting for the forgiveness of their sins. Repentance is more than a state of mind, or something abstract- it repentance requires action. Repentance is turning away from sin and turning back to God. Repentance clears the way for us to experience God's salvation.
On this second sunday of Advent- God is drawing near. Jesus Christ, the Incarnate God, has come to earth and will come again. Creation will roll out like a red carpet to note God's arrival. Likewise, we too must have our hearts prepared and ready for Christ to dwell in us.