Saturday, December 08, 2012

December 9, 2012

Today's text

In the fifteenth year of Tiberias Caesar's reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, … the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah, in the desert.  He went through the whole Jordan area proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the sayings of Isaiah the prophet: A voice of one that cries in the desert: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight! Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be leveled, winding ways be straightened and rough roads made smooth (Luke 3:1-6)


No matter what else you are preparing for this Christmas, prepare a way to come home.

We need to return home to the place where our hearts belong, where anxiety evaporates, shame disappears and hope fills every corner of our soul.

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah imagined a highway for exiles to return home. Mountains would be laid low, and low places built up. Crooked roads would be made straight.

John the Baptist echoes this image, calling us to repent that God may come to us and our hearts may find their way home to God.

Repentance is much misunderstood. It is not a word of condemnation but an invitation to come home.

It literally means to go beyond the mind you have, to enter a new mind, a new way of seeing and being. It means to find your right mind so you may know the truth about who you are and who God is.

It is easy to lose your mind this time of year. Thousands of voices tell us to buy the right gift, shop at the best store, get the newest digital gadgets and prepare until the wee hours for parties and gatherings of all sorts. Go faster, work harder. You need to keep the season bright.

Amid the rush, we lose touch with our deepest realty, forgetting that we are created for love, to know love and to become the love of the One who comes to us wrapped warm in Mary’s arms.

Repentance is about turning from your overwhelmed weariness and the anxiousness of the season to regain your sanity, reclaim your identity and arrive again at the love for which you were made.

It begins with a quiet prayer that we might feel ourselves truly loved by God, a prayer for God to chase away our feelings of failure, self-hatred and unworthiness that we might know that we are beloved beyond our wildest imaginations.

Only then are we in our right minds, and the road is ready for us to walk home into the love that awaits us every morning … and most certainly on Christmas morning.

For prayer & reflection

  • What drives you out of your right mind during this season?
  • What do you most need to do to prepare the Lord’s way within your heart and life?
  • Where does the word of the Lord speak to you--in the wilderness of your heart--this time of year?

 Another voice

Then cleansed be every heart from sin. Make straight the way for God within,
shine forth and let your let restore, and spirit blessed forever more.
To heal the sick stretch out your hand, and bid the fallen sinner stand.

(“On Jordan’s Bank”, Charles Coffin, 1974)

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