Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight (v. 4).
Interesting things happen in the wilderness. When I get away from the busyness of life and spend time in nature, I slow down and breathe deeply. I grow aware of the beauty of God’s creation and reflect on how I need to reorient my life. If I’m willing to listen, I hear God’s voice speak to me, calling me to something new.
John the baptizer is in the wilderness preaching for people to change their ways. He wants them to align their lives with God’s ways and experience forgiveness. John’s prophetic message evokes a metaphor for the way things can be. Prepare a path, he proclaims, where the potholes are filled, the high places are now accessible, the jagged trail straightens out, and the rough way is made smooth. This is a vision of equity and a level playing field, a place where all of the beloved community has easy access to God’s love and grace.
Opening our hearts to those around us changes us, removing the boundaries that separate us so we can see the image of God in each person. We change when we reorient our lives toward compassion and empathy and turn from indifference and impatience. When we slow down enough to pay attention, we start seeing the ways we’ve gone astray. Then we can move in the direction of new life, preparing the way for the Lord to come to us.
If you are able, take a walk or sit outside. Look at the beauty of God’s creation. Listen for the ways God calls you to prepare the way for the Lord. What distractions will you set aside today in order to hear what God is saying?
God, help me slow down so that I can hear your voice, receive your forgiveness, and reorient my life toward love and grace. Amen.