Daily Scripture: Luke 3:1-6
Reflection: The Rev. Tyler Richards, Rector—Transfiguration Episcopal Church, Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan
I love a good book. I’ve spent more of my life that I care to mention with my nose pressed between the pages of a novel; some good and some bad. If I’m honest probably more of the bad ones than the good ones, but I digress. I love the introduction to the characters, the build-up to the climax of the story and watching how the entire picture finally comes together and you, as the reader, can finally see the big picture the author is trying to paint with her words. At least, that’s what the good ones do.
We are three chapters into Luke’s account before we get our first glimpse of the esoteric John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin who has gone out into the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord. Seemingly taking his marching orders from the scroll of Isaiah, he goes to make the way straight for Jesus, who will enter the story as an adult in just a few moments, I mean verses, to be baptized and begin his public ministry. It’s clear, however, that Jesus has already been at work in the lives of his family and neighbors; the one who has grown “in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.” Jesus wastes no time and has a thirst to do the will of his Father as soon as he is able. What voices do we hear calling to us in the season of Advent, and how many of those voices are actually worth a listen? Hallmark has produced a glut of movies that tell us “what Christmas is all about.” Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, and all the other retailers out there release their highly produced Christmas commercials telling us “it’s the most wonderful time of the year,” but why is that so, and how has that come to be? Not by the hands of a Tickle-me-Elmo, I promise.
It is, or soon will be, the most wonderful time of the year because there was a voice crying out in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord (I’m a sucker for the KJV every now and again).” The voice cries out to us not only as an announcement of what we are waiting for but also as a command; a command to take our share in the work of the first Advent and make a way for Jesus not only in the wildernesses of our hearts but also in the wildernesses of the world. Advent is an internal and external event, not just 4 candles on a pretty wreath in the naves of our churches. It’s a call to us, and to our friends and neighbors, that the story is only just beginning and the wonder that is about to be performed in the world is not just about a little town called Bethlehem. We have work to do, and there is little time to waste. So we make the high places low, the crooked paths straight, and prepare the way not only for the greatest story ever told, but also for the single greatest mystery to ever be handed into human hands, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. That’s the story I want to hear. That’s the story I want to share. That’s the truth I want to live.
The Rev. Tyler Richards+