“Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!” Luke 3:4
It’s the season of Advent. The shopping malls have been displaying Christmas decorations and playing carols since Halloween. We watched the Macy’s Christmas Parade on Thanksgiving. Yesterday, we had the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Festival. Judy has been buying Christmas gifts for months. To all appearances, Christmas is in full swing.
We come to church expecting more of what our culture offers. In the season of Advent, we won’t find Santa, nor a smiling young Mary, a cooing baby Jesus, inquisitive shepherds, or singing angels.
Instead we have this strange speech from Jesus full of frightening images. We do not encounter the baby Jesus that people wait for during Advent, but the adult Jesus, who tells us that the whole universe will be turned upside down. The season of Advent demands a very different kind of preparation than the shopping malls and advertisements recommend.
If people know anything about Advent, they know it is the time when we prepare for Christmas. Advent is certainly a time when we prepare to celebrate the coming of Christ in history. In Advent, we prepare for the coming of Christ in history, in mystery and in majesty. Concerning Advent, The United Methodist Book of Worship, states the following: “The season proclaims the comings of the Christ – whose birth we prepare to celebrate once again, who comes continually in Word and Spirit, and whose return in final victory we anticipate.” (BoW 238)
Christ came in history at Christmas, he comes in mystery in Word and Sacrament, and he will come again in majesty. The readings for the season of Advent address all these aspects of the coming of Christ.
“Run the race!”