God's idea of preparing for Jesus coming was just a little bit different.
"The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be laid low."
This isn't a passage predicting some sort of environmental sabotage, but one that points to spiritual realities.
"Straight paths, rough made smooth", the Grollo reaction to words like this is to get a bulldozer, a cement mixer or at least a bobcat and shovel.
BUT the real task that is set for us here in this message to prepare, is to overcome the barriers that stop us and others from hearing the good news, the impediments to the gospel that dull our hearing and blur our vision and trip us up on the path. Things like:
These are the sort of realities that keep us in the wilderness and stop us from accepting Jesus' real coming into our daily living.
Johns message asks us "What are the barriers facing you and me and the people around us this Christmas, barriers that stop the way of Christ coming in our lives?
But the voice crying in the wilderness has never been a popular one,
John was a dissenter with a challenging, unpopular message, and God was at work through him. We need to listen to the dissenters of our own day - because God may be at work through them too, calling us and our society to turn around and go in a new direction.
At the moment the Aboriginal voice is one crying in the wilderness for a different form of justice and different values - we might do well to listen, to go in a different direction and embrace a costly reconciliation. Dissenting voices cry out for justice for detained refugees - so called illegal immigrants. Voices for children in care,..
Our barriers to God's invitation to us are often of our own making, to do with our own selfishness and habits. John the Baptists message is one that ought to make us stop and think, and maybe do something different before we just go on in the same old way.
This Advent the time of preparing for Christmas, remember the real invitation God gives us in Christ, a gracious gift of another chance to stop and take stock, to turn around and go in a different direction.
We each have prepare the way for Jesus coming in our lives, not just today, or this Advent, but every day, Amen.
Lord we await your Advent, here in our wilderness, in the dryness of our lives, where we often lose our bearings and can't find our way. Come to us Lord and bring us home, help us to prepare the way for your coming, to expect your peace and to live in your joy. Amen