When the pandemic hit earlier this year, it was during Lent. A popular saying I heard among liturgical friends was this:
“This is the Lentiest Lent I’ve ever Lented.”
It was truly a season of lament and reflection. For a tradition that holds sacrament close, being away from the physical was a radical shift. No Holy Week services, no Good Friday together. No Easter together.
While we have (in our church in our state) been able to have limited gatherings, it is still a huge awareness of the season of COVID.
Leading me to think,
“This will be the Adventiest Advent I’ve ever Advented.”
Advent will mark the New Year for the Church. (Honestly, those who have ignored the Church Calendar your entire life… GET IN NOW! We can mark a new year and fool COVID in the process! I guy can hope…)
As we enter Advent, we are called to mark the appearing of the Lord the first time… and to renew a longing for his Second Coming.
The Daily Office reading takes me through Isaiah and today I am in Isaiah 40.
There is a word for us in this season from this passage:
3 A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Notice that opening phrase: In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord.
These words were written to those in the Babylonian captivity. These are words of comfort and hope. These are words of anticipation.
It is a call to hope. It is a call to work.
The call isn’t, “When you’re through the wilderness and out of captivity prepare the way of the Lord.”
The word isn’t, “You have yourself in a mess, so pray your way out then I have some work for you to do.”
The word IS… “In the wilderness…”
IN your captivity…
IN your mess…
PREPARE the way of the Lord.
In other words… IN your circumstances (whatever they may be) prepare the way of the Lord. It is to make the way smooth for others to come. It is to make the way easy for others to come. THEN the glory of the Lord will be revealed.
In this “adventiest of Advents”… prepare.
In this “adventiest of Advents”… HOPE.
We don’t wait for a “better” day, or a more “convenient” day for Advent. We don’t wait for a more comfortable day to prepare the way of the Lord.
Right now… in our wilderness… prepare.