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12-3-19 - The Level Road

(You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday's gospel reading is here.)

John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,"The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: `Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'"

John had a message: repent and prepare. He was a profoundly counter-cultural figure out there in the desert, but people paid attention. Matthew tells us, “Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan...”
Even in his day he was linked with the prophet Isaiah’s prediction that a prophet would arise out in the wilderness crying, “Prepare the way of the Lord.”

That prophecy in Isaiah says, 
“Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Making space for the life of God breaking into our lives means building a highway for Christ to travel, a straight and level road in the desert of this world. This “leveling,” the valleys being lifted and mountains brought low, the rough and rugged ground becoming plains, is a metaphor which has economic, political, even emotional dimensions.

Part of our spiritual work is making space for the life of God, the love of God, the justice of God. There is an equalizing element to this, a seeking of equilibrium. When we start to look for peaks and valleys, highs and lows, we can see them everywhere: environmentally, in toxic slag heaps and crater-filled mining areas; economically, in the income gap between rich and poor, widening at an alarming rate in our times – for countries as well as individuals. We can find disparity in our own moods, as we become hostage to pressure and stress from without and within.

As you survey the world and your own life, what hills might be brought low and what vacancies filled in?  A simpler way to ask that is: What do you have too much of in your life? 
(Think spiritually and emotionally as well as materially…)
What do you not have enough of? What feels empty in you that needs to be filled?

If we can answer those two questions, we have some prayer work laid out for the season of Advent, as we keep praying into those “too-much-es,” and “not-enoughs.” Why is the “too-much-ness” there? Has the deficiency always existed? Is there an external, justice dimension to our issues?

Christ has come, Christ is coming, Christ will come again.
How might we make a level road for him to walk - into our world, into our hearts?

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