This Second Sunday of Advent we hear about God’s messenger John the Baptist (who was the last of the Old Testament prophets). He was a transitional figure between the covenant God made with Israel and the covenant that was established with Christ. John’s cry today is for us to return to the Lord (remember last week’s Psalm) and to change our lives. That is his message of hope: if we prepare ourselves well, and we empty ourselves of all things but the desire for God, God will fill us with goodness. We could use a bit more of that right now, I think… So, what do we do for conversion and repentance?
St. Peter reminds us that God is patient with us, and He is waiting for us to repent. We await “new heavens and a new earth” and St. Peter warns us to be eager to be “found without spot or blemish” and at peace. Conduct “yourselves with holiness and devotion.” This is difficult to do in this (or any) season or time; we are always faced with this challenge to our choices and priorities. The world sells you Christmas without Christ, and holi-days that are not Holy Days.
If we listen closely to Isaiah today, some “major landscaping” should be taking place within us and in our homes—I liked this landscaping image from one of the commentary writers. Isaiah tells us: “Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low; the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.” Think of it: in our conversion we are changing our rough country—our valleys of depression, loneliness and confusion; mountains and hills of sharp grudges, doubts and lies; the rugged land of poor health, addiction, mistakes; the unsure footing through financial hardship, the personal loss, persecution, wounded relationships—much of which has come to light in this pandemic. To change the landscape of our lives is conversion in a big way. Are you making it easy for the Lord to enter in for you and yours? What changes are taking place in your home during Advent that will allow for filled in valleys and smoother places?
What do we have to do? In Advent John the Baptist tells us to repent. It is our opportunity to look at the valleys and mountains we must scale in our lives in order to make God first in all things; to “Ready the Way” for Him to enter into our hearts and minds, to landscape, order and arrange our lives so He may enter easily. We must put the Christ back in Christmas and make our choices and priorities holy ones. And God will help us make our rough places smooth if we let Him. By virtue of our baptism we are like John the Baptist: we also are heralds of God’s truth to those around us. As we live in Advent and prepare for Christmas, we also await the new heavens and the new earth in which righteousness dwells. We know that: “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together.” Maybe today, maybe right here and right now, in all that we say and do.
Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a note: I and another member of our St. Aidan Music Ministry, Nick Canzano (Guitar), will be playing and singing for “Advent by Candlelight” this Wednesday, December 9th at 6:30 pm in our church. All are invited: bring friends, wear masks and make space between you as usual in church. As your entrance “ticket,” please bring money and/or canned goods to donate to our food pantry for Christmas. Since this year the Music Ministry isn’t doing a Pageant to collect those needed food and funds, I thought this might be a good way to help the pantry recoup from our Thanksgiving food drive. Thanks to the Women’s Group of St. Aidan!
Nick and I will be “riding the line” between Advent and Christmas in our program entitled “Be the Light.” It will include some familiar contemporary favorites from both Seasons. We hope to see you there with your donations for a good cause!
More: Thanksgiving is much on my mind. Here is a lovely choral piece by the great American composer, Aaron Copeland.
This brought tears to my eyes—enjoy!
The Promise of Living: https://youtu.be/Rx-dReVRsl4