A way in the wilderness

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         …As it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
         The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
         “Prepare the way of the Lord,
         make straight a path for God”.

                  —Luke 3.4

Luke does a little sleight of hand here. Isaiah says “The voice of one crying out: ‘In the wilderness prepare a way.’” Isaiah is talking about a road through the desert that would bring the exiles back home. Luke is talking about John preaching in the desert, so he makes it sound like it’s the preacher that’s in the wilderness, not the path that’s being prepared. Luke connects John and Isaiah because the coming of Jesus is not just about personal salvation; it’s about justice.

We’ve turned Christmas into a sentimental feeling-fest. We get warm and fuzzy loving each other and feeling touched at the midnight candles and the pretty music. But listen to the scriptures and it’s actually all about God’s profound and even traumatic incursion against the unjust systems in this world, to create a new order. The mountains and valleys of wealth and power will be leveled. The rough places of exploitation and dehumanization will be smoothed. No wonder there’ll be “signs in the heavens and distress among the nations.”

To really honor Christmas we should not just to shop for our loved ones but act on behalf of God’s loved ones, the poor and powerless. Tonight I’m taking some church members caroling at the prison. Maybe it will get some of them involved in reform of our “justice system.” Maybe our singing will be a small voice crying out: “In the wilderness prepare a way….”

This Christmas, be mindful of those who are marginalized, exploited or oppressed. Keep in your prayers those who are lonely or afraid or abused. Put them on your list, not just to shop, but to work for justice. In the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight a path for God. And all flesh shall see the salvation of our Lord.
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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