Advent – December 20th, 2018

What does this mean, to prepare His ways? John the Baptist is the prep for Jesus, we get that, but what does it mean to prepare folks? I’ve put aside some emergency stuff for an earthquake. They call it a “go bag” with all the survival basics you might need in an emergency. I don’t have a lot of confidence that I’m all that prepared, but it’s something. Many years ago a friend of mine gave me a map to his house out in the woods, where he had buckets of submerged rice in liquid nitrogen and stores upon stores of dried foods – so we could eat for years when society finally collapses. He was seriously worried, and his fear had driven him into a survival mania. There’s a lot of that going around.

But that’s not in Zechariah, not here, not in this Holy Spirit filled prayer for his son John. No, this is a preparation for something grand, victorious, and beautiful. It’s an expectation for God to act, to work a miracle of salvation for us. This isn’t passive! This is an active engagement with God’s promises and preparing our lives for those promises to come true. We must live like this, for when we are hovering over our future with expectant joy, this prepares us and everyone around us for His coming. We all participate in John the Baptist’s ministry this way, and through us, the gospel is “adventing” into San Francisco and into everyone we know and love. There’s a glow and energy that expectation creates – something you see in a child’s eyes on Christmas Eve. Their excitement is electric with imagination. The presents under the tree won’t even match the delicious expectation that’s been building, and it infects everyone.

Our hopes are greater, and our gifts are more magical and wonderful than any present ever wrapped. If we live in this sort of joyous anticipation, it will affect everyone around us. It changes how you make decisions and what you think is valuable. It orients you toward all of the blessings of God. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. Zechariah hopes for a lot for his little boy. He doesn’t know the suffering and death that his son will face. But this is where the promises really cash in. They aren’t defeated by death or persecution or danger or hate. Jesus has come to bring His peace, forgiveness, and victory. These promises aren’t defeated by death or crazy politicians or human destruction…but they also don’t even run from them! This is how the gospel “preps” us! We live in new joy by the Spirit, just like Zechariah does. Lord prepare us, and send us to prepare a way for You and Your blessing into the lives of everyone we know and love.

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