Tuesday, December 6, 2016
by Jeremy & Katie Smith
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.’” Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then 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.
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. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Is it just us or does it seem like we begin preparing for Christmas earlier an earlier each year? Christmas trees, decorations, and holiday cards appear in stores well before Halloween even arrives. Our schedules fill up so quickly as we prepare for Christmas: work holiday parties to attend, year-end deadlines at work, purchasing the perfect present for a loved one, and preparing our homes for holiday visitors. But how many of us forget to also prepare our hearts, minds, and spirits for the coming of the Messiah? John the Baptist pleads with us to “Prepare the way for the coming of the Lord.” What does that mean and how do we do that in this day and age when we’re so consumed by our own self-centered agendas?
We struggle to be still and to be silent and so we miss an opportunity to hear God’s voice and to be on the lookout for his arrival. The apostle Paul says “for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” Will we notice His arrival and will we make time to prepare? We believe there is still time. Advent is the perfect season to prepare as we anticipate Christ’s arrival. Let us all find time during the holiday rush to pray thoughtfully, repent for our sins, and study God’s word to know how we can follow him more closely.
“Prepare the way, O Zion, your Christ is drawing near!
Let every hill and valley a level way appear.
Greet One who comes in glory, for told in sacred story.
O blest is Christ that came in God’s most holy name.”