The Hebrew Scripture readings can be beautiful during Advent–put on forever the beauty of the glory from God. Put on the robe for the righteousness that comes from God…The Lord has done great things. Baruch begins and Psalm 126 agrees. Such is the promise held up for us as we wait in joyful hope. Peace will reign and we will walk safely in the glory of God. Our mouths will be filled with laughter and our tongues will hold shouts of joy. We will rejoice because as we read in Philippians 1, the One who has begun a good work among us will bring it to completion. We are preparing the Way of the Lord, as the Baptist shouts out in Luke’s Gospel today.
Suddenly the readings dovetail into one revealing sentence: Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth…..everything we once thought we knew as reality will shift. God will do these miracles and what we once knew is made new. Advent is a time of not clinging to the old but embracing profound change. If we open our hearts and minds, perhaps our mountains will crumble and our crooked ways will be made straight. Our unhealthy habits, our grief, and our failed dreams can be transformed. That requires some action from us first though. We need to want to put on the beauty of the glory of God and the robe of righteousness. We need to lay down our old garments that prevent us from layering ourselves with this holiness. To walk safely in the glory of God asks us to commit to taking some first steps in trust.
As a group of retreatants end First Week, I hope that they have identified their root sin that holds them back from living fully the life that God calls them to. We cannot successfully be about preparing the Way if we do not purify ourselves first. We need to enter the wilderness of our own lives and ask for forgiveness of sins so that we can be free to prepare the way without stumbling over our own robe of righteousness. The community celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation has lost its place of importance during the Christmas season sadly but I believe in its value. If this second Sunday of Advent is about peace, then what better way to secure that than to confess our sins and be absolved so that we might have our mouths filled with laughter and joy as the children of the Child? Prepare the Way. Cleanse your heart. Put on the cloak of beauty, joy and peace. Watch for the signs that change is a-coming. The One who has begun a good work will bring it to completion. I believe this.
What changes are a-coming this Advent for you?
What must you release in order to put on beauty and righteousness?
You, who have begun a good work
in each of us, we ask that you bring
it to completion so that we might
joyfully put on the cloak of
beauty, righteousness, and peace.
Help us to prepare the Way
that you are designing
that will change everything we knew
to something spectacularly new.