Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 12; 146, Judges 7:1-18, Acts 3:1-11, John 1:19-28
When the Pharisees pressed John the Baptist about his identity, he replied with a quote from Isaiah: “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.'” Notably he did not say he was the one making the way straight: he offered a rallying cry, but did not take it upon himself to fill the valleys and lower the mountains and level the rugged places. No, he left those duties to us.
If we look critically at the spiritual landscape of our local community, our nation, or our world, do we see straight paths carved out to usher in the glory of the Lord? Let’s just say much of that highway project remains to be completed. Deep valleys of unbridged poverty interrupt the road. Mountains of wealth, power, or other worldly distractions tempt us to achievement which in reality is more obstacle than accomplishment. Our world is a study in the contrast between spiritual mountains and valleys. High and low social status. Casually discarded half-full bottles of water … and tarps laid out to catch a few life-sustaining drops of dew. Piles of diamonds towering above the graves of those who died to excavate them. The temptation to fill the valleys by toppling the mountains into them can be great.
Unfortunately the challenge isn’t so simple, and none of us can complete this project alone. Some days the best we can do is move one teaspoon of earth at a time, and not even all that without spilling some. But John, Isaiah, the prophets, and the saints keep calling to us: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” As long as we keep to our task – spoon by spoon, mountain by mountain – the way of the Lord is that much closer to its completion.
If it all seems overwhelming, perhaps we can begin by leveling the mountains and valleys – those things blocking God from view – in our own hearts. Then we open ourselves to serve as one of the countless stepping stones the Lord uses to stride to the places most in need.
Comfort: If you are struggling, remember God is on your side.
Challenge: If you are comfortable, remember you are on God’s side.
Prayer: God of Abundance, I will seek to prepare Your way in the wilderness. Amen.
Discussion: It’s easy to cast the poor as victims and the rich as villains, but both are operating within the same system of injustice. What are some better, non-binary ways to understand the world?
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