"Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.”
The way has been prepared. The pathway for the coming of God’s reign has been made straight. John the Baptist has taken up his calling, preaching the reign of God and inviting the community to come and be baptized as a sign of their repentance. John’s calling, as we are reminded throughout the season of Advent, is one of preparation. He is not the one we’re waiting for. He is instead the advance man. The Gospel of Luke begins with John’s story – the story of his miraculous birth to a woman who like Sarah and Hannah is barren. Elizabeth and Zechariah had long since given up hope of having children of their own, but then an angel of God appeared and surprised them with news that they would have the opportunity to have a child who will be dedicated to the work of God and prepare the way for the Lord (Luke 1:5-25).
So here we are, just days before Christmas. The world around us is bustling with activity. People are waiting in lines to buy last minute gifts, and perhaps feeling exhausted by everything going on in the neighborhood. Into the midst of all this comes word that God is entering our world and restoring to this world hope, peace, joy, and love. For, as the Advent hymn declares:
When God is a child there’s joy in our song.
The last shall be first and the weak shall be strong,
And none shall be afraid.
Yes, there is no need for fear, for in the person of the incarnate one, God is with us!