A voice is wailing, “In the wilderness, get it ready! Prepare the way; make it a straight shot. The Eternal would have it so. Straighten the way in the wandering desert to make the crooked road wide and straight for our God. Where there are steep valleys, treacherous descents, raise the highway; lift it up; bring down the dizzying heights. Fill in the potholes and gullies, the rough places. Iron out the shoulders flat and wide. The Lord will be, really be, among us. The radiant glory of the Lord will be revealed. All flesh together will take it in. Believe it. None other than God, the Eternal, has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5 (the Voice)
35 people are coming to our house for Thanksgiving. Of course, by the time you read this, those 35 people will have come and gone. But as I write this, Thanksgiving is still a few days away. We have been preparing for some time now. We did some cleaning. We did some painting. We added some furniture. We hung new curtains. We cleaned the oven. We have a very large turkey in our refrigerator. When our guests arrive, we will be ready.
“Prepare the way for the Lord!” is the quintessential advent proclamation. These prophetic words echo through history as words of assurance and admonition.
“The Lord will be, really be, among us.” This is the unrelenting assurance of the advent proclamation. The King is coming! When shadows darken, when fear distorts, when hate revels, when powers take - the King is coming and nothing can stand in his way. With unparallelled strength, he will transform our world into what it was intended to be; all that is broken will be mended; all that is estranged will be reconciled; all that is distorted will be made right; all that is incomplete will be made whole; and all creation shall stand in awe of what the Eternal has done!
“Prepare the way!” This is the unapologetic admonition of the advent proclamation. The King is coming! Are we ready? Have we prepared our hearts and our homes for his arrival? When he arrives, what will he find? Will he have to shovel his way to our doorsteps? Will he have to ring broken doorbells or break through locked doors? Will he find a place at our tables? Will he find signs that we have been expecting him? Or will he find symbols and icons of a culture that fabricates peace and counterfeits joy? Will we be ready?
“Believe it.” Nothing and no one can stop the King from coming, but let us not be those who stand in his way. Let us instead eagerly prepare our hearts and homes to welcome the arrival of Emmanuel, the Eternal with us, and together join in the chorus of invitation: “Come, Desire of nations, come; Fix in us thy humble home.”