Saturday, 9 December 2017

Advent 2: Prepare ye the way of the Lord: Christine Hutt

Mark 1 v 1-8
Ever since I first read this passage I have had the words from ‘Godspell’ – ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord’ ringing in my ears.   Prepare for the Lord’s coming, not just at Christmas, but at the Second Coming, at the end of time.  This is the message of Advent.  But is this the same as ‘getting ready for Christmas’, a Christmas we often want to avoid with all its hustle and bustle and commercialisation?

John the Baptist was a charismatic figure who lived in the wilderness where there was no distraction to hearing the voice of God. He drew people out of the towns and cities because his message had authority.  He stood out from the crowd, not only because of his message but because of his austere lifestyle.  He ‘lived simply’ eating locusts and wild honey, food from the local area, and wore clothes of camel hair that came from locally sourced materials.  Does our lifestyle match our message? Do we consider our ‘carbon footprint’ in the choices we make?

The words he preached were not ‘comfortable words’ for his hearers, for he preached for action. He felt that people needed to get ready for the coming of the Messiah, a coming that had been foretold in Scripture, and that in order for them to do this, they needed to change their lives, their lifestyle.  They needed to change, to repent and to be baptised in order to demonstrate that change.

I found these words from a poem called ‘Prepare’ by Jan Richardson:
 Prepare, prepare.

It may feel like
the word is leveling you
emptying you
as it asks you
to give up
what you have known.

It is impolite
and hardly tame
but when it falls
upon your lips
you will wonder
at the sweetness

like honey
that finds its way
into the hunger
you had not known
was there.

Like John we need to have time out, with no distractions, to spend alone with God. Perhaps especially in Advent we need to have a Quiet Day to re-order our spiritual lives and find that we are changed by the encounter.

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