Monday, December 7, 2009

Prepare Ye the Way

I don’t know what there is about the simple verse “Prepare Ye the Way” but it has always been one of those STOP verses. One that pulls me back and says there is something more important, something other than shopping, decorating, or baking and getting ready for a materialistic Christmas.

Maybe that is why I am so looking forward to this Christmas. Our family and extended family have agreed to “no presents” but lots of “presence.” And I’m working on simplifying the decorating. The baking…well that’s my relaxation and I learned many years ago that the only person that knew if I didn’t get something made on the list was me, so…

I am working on preparing the way with more thought and time for God, by truly making Jesus the Reason for each of my preparations: by celebrating God’s glory; giving prayer and scripture priority, rather than leftover time; and looking at satisfying my “shopping” urge by focusing on charities and friends who actually need my time and/or generosity.

Sunday’s readings each speak of preparing the way for Christ in our life. We are to prepare by giving God glory, by rejoicing, and by celebrating in prayer, by searching for His enlightenment and by opening our heart to be filled with a pure love and righteousness for Him. Bar 5:1-9 speaks of putting on the splendor of glory.
Phil 1:4-6, 8-11 says: “And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.”

And John the Baptist, making way for Jesus: “John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord,make straight his paths .Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Lk 3:1-6

Father made the illustration of what is in our lives with three gifts: a pretty wrapping filled with garbage; an empty gift bag, or the plain bag filled with his favorite cookies. What “gifts” do we offer Jesus with our lives? Is our life “full of junk,” “empty,” or “sweet?” Is our gift “open” at the top, ready to be filled with God’s love and grace?

If we are like the “bag of junk” filled with selfish desires, greed and impurities and dressed excessively, looking good for the world; than are we willing to accept God’s greatest gift—God’s forgiveness and a chance to start anew.

Or are we empty—unwilling or not knowing what we are searching for to fill our lives. Trying to please a person or ourselves rather than God? Are we looking in the right place—upwards—to fill our life?

Or are we mixing the “sweets” with “the junk” and would we eat a sweet mixed in with the egg shells and banana peels? What is the “junk” in our lives that we need to throw away because it is “ripe?”

Let us “Prepare Ye the Way” by opening our hearts in love with hope and faith, setting ourselves on a straight and narrow path, and by getting the junk out of our life. Help me to be enlightened by what is of true value. Help me to remember “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”—that He is waiting for us to open the gifts of our life and our hearts to Him. Help me to be filled with His grace and spirit, through prayer and His word. And let our traditions mirror the true tradition of Christmas—family and gifts given in purity, with unworldly love, those of our “presence,” time, and charity.

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